Troops Could be Court-Martialed For Refusing to Use Pronouns, Experts Claim

According to military specialists, the current regulation allows the military to potentially penalize service members who refuse to use the chosen pronouns of another service member.

According to Capt. Thomas Wheatley, an assistant professor at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, a law passed in 2020 called the Equal Opportunity Act allows commanders to charge individuals with harassment under the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ) if they refuse to affirm a “transgender” servicemember’s gender identity. While this would certainly violate a service member’s right to religious freedom, it may not stop superiors from using more covert methods of discipline.

According to Wheatley, the military can safeguard the well-being and rights of its “transgender” members, but it also must protect the views of those who disagree with it, particularly when doing so constitutes a fundamental manifestation of individual conscience.

Wheatley emphasized that no military regulation forbids the practice of “misgendering,” in which a person refers to a “transgender” person using pronouns that do not reflect the individual’s actual gender identification.

Current instructions, however, suggest that using pronouns that another person has refused to use is a violation of Military Equal Opportunity (MEO) laws against discrimination and harassment based on a person’s gender.

Wheatley expressed his concern about the potential criminal prosecution of a military member for supposed harassment if the individual “misgendered” another service member. In the recent case of Bostock v. Clayton County, the Supreme Court upheld the claims of the LGBT plaintiffs who had sued their employers, claiming that their termination was based on their gender identity or sexual orientation.

The conservative justices cautioned that the case would significantly impact businesses that rely on spiritual beliefs and the free practice of religion at work.

According to experts, the military has never punished personnel for refusing to use another’s chosen pronouns by citing the UCMJ. However, commanders have the authority to reprimand service members even without a criminal trial, which might result in a less dignified exit from the military.

Congress can compel the military to recognize “unqualified” freedom to use pronouns that align with religious beliefs, decriminalize vague infractions of a military order (MOO), and restrict its use.

It is proposed that Congress establish a public record of instances when religious freedom is endangered and that frequent training be provided on the subject.