The case of convicted traitor Chelsea Manning continues to create ripples of discontent in the American military as the discussion of transgender individuals serving on active duty is batted around in Washington. New Defense Secretary Ash Carter raised some eyebrows recently when he suggested that the current ban on such persons serving might need to be lifted. While they’re not going public with their complaints at this time, the AP reports that some senior commanders are none too pleased with the idea.
Defense Secretary Ash Carter has gotten pushback from senior military leaders on whether the Pentagon should lift its ban on transgender people serving in the armed forces, according to U.S. officials familiar with the discussions.
Carter initially told troops in Afghanistan that he was open-minded when asked if the Defense Department was planning to remove one of the last gender- or sexuality-based barriers to military service. But defense officials said members of his top brass told Carter that they had serious reservations.
The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the matter publicly.
Things get complicated enough when you’re talking about a man dressed as a woman using the female locker room at the local gym. But in the military – particularly for units deployed in a combat zone or in the cramped confines of a surface ship or submarine – there are a host of other considerations which turn this into a nightmare for the leadership. And we’re not just talking about which bathroom they will use or which showers they head to. There are questions about appropriate medical care. Will the military have to provide hormone therapy or even surgery for everyone “in transition” while they serve? And how might they impact their ability to carry out the mission?
And while they are busy assuring the “rights” of the transgender service member, what about the concerns of the rest of the troops? Women in particular face enough unique challenges in their military service as it is. What if they don’t feel comfortable sharing the shower with somebody with, shall we say, the opposite plumbing even if his name is Martha? Maintaining unit cohesion is a challenge under the best of times, so it’s not terribly surprising that some of the commanders are already pushing back against tossing yet another fly in the ointment.
This is not a question of discrimination, and those attempting to create some sort of parallel to racially integrating the military are being disingenuous. This is just an added hassle that the military doesn’t need and it’s not going to end well if they continue down this path.