Ed Morrissey wrote about this subject this morning, but there are a couple of other points I wanted to hit. Now, of course, Politico is reporting that the only reason Trump announced the ban was because it was a trade-off to get funding for the border wall in the next spending bill.
House Republicans were planning to pass a spending bill stacked with his campaign promises, including money to build his border wall with Mexico.
But an internal House Republican fight over transgender troops was threatening to blow up the bill. And House GOP insiders feared they might not have the votes to pass the legislation because defense hawks wanted a ban on Pentagon-funded sex reassignment operations — something GOP leaders wouldn’t give them.
They turned to Trump, who didn’t hesitate. In the flash of a tweet, he announced that transgender troops would be banned altogether.
Is it true? Who knows anymore? It’s coming from yet more of the infamous “anonymous sources” inside the Beltway. But whether that was the reason or it was something else entirely, I’ll touch on a couple of points Ed brought up and add a few of my own. Pour yourself a cold one and pull up a chair because this could get a bit lengthy.
In no particular order, some of the questions already raised include the cost the military might incur. While I agree that the cost is beyond minuscule in terms of the total amount that the military spends on healthcare, that’s really not the issue. The question is the appropriateness of funding any treatment for gender dysphoria. And to deal with that issue you have to first decide what “transgender” means in a medical sense. We have some splinter elements of the medical profession who seem to be treating it as nothing more than “just another way people can be” without supplying any scientific proof to back up their definition. But in reality, particularly if you have any respect for science in general and medical science in particular, it’s neither that simple nor innocuous.
As the American College of Pediatricians points out, particularly when dealing with problems in children (though it applies to adults as well), “a person’s belief that he or she is something they are not is, at best, a sign of confused thinking… Gender dysphoria (GD), formerly listed as Gender Identity Disorder (GID), is a recognized mental disorder in the most recent edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of the American Psychiatric Association (DSM-V).”
I’ve always found that a bit harsh and have been reluctant to refer to it as a mental disorder. (And for the record, we’re talking about transgenderism here, where the normal “XY” or “XX” genetic markers are present in males and females respectively. People with related genetic abnormalities, casually referred to as “intersex” these days, need to be accommodated differently.) Of course, some folks are a bit more direct about it, such as Ben Shapiro.
No one has the "right" to serve in the military. People are 4F for a variety of reasons. Mental illness can be such a reason.
— Ben Shapiro (@benshapiro) July 26, 2017
Even if we’re not going so far as to refer to gender confusion as a mental disorder it is, as the ACP pointed out, at best a sign of confusion which puts any surgery, hormone injections or other medical treatments into the category of “optional” or “elective” if we’re being honest about it. We don’t pay for our troops to get breast implants or hair plugs or face lifts or tummy tucks (unless it’s corrective in nature following injury) so there is a case to be made that this shouldn’t be covered either.
There’s also a problem with the all too common practice of taking the use of the acronym LGBT too literally and lumping in transgender volunteers with gay and lesbian troops. While Ed was drawing a distinction between the two in his column column and bringing up the history of the don’t ask, don’t tell policy without attempting to conflate them, I’ve been watching others on social media lumping everything together as if Lesbian and Gay service should be treated the same.
Few would have predicted a total ban. Some had raised the possibility of using the “don’t ask don’t tell” policy used for twenty years or so when dealing with gays and lesbians serving in the military, but that would be impractical as well as hypocritical.
That’s correct. The two situations are unique, each in their own way. It is disingenuous to attempt to tie gays and lesbians in with this transgender question for purposes of this discussion. I have zero problem with gays and lesbians serving in the military or anywhere else for that matter. In fact I served with more than a few when I was in the service years ago, long before they were able to come out. C’ mon, man. I was an invited guest at quite a few Go-Proud events when they were still in business. There’s no reason gays and lesbians can’t fulfill their duties without causing any issues in force performance any more than with straight service members.
But unlike transgender folk, gays and lesbians can and do use all the same bathroom, shower, lockers, barracks and other facilities assigned to their actual gender. (Read “biological sex” though it’s a disgrace we even need to invoke that term.) Not so for those who “identify” as the other sex, insist on wearing the opposite uniform and using the wrong facilities. Out in the civilian world certain accommodations can be made for the individuality of others provided they don’t infringe on the privacy and rights of everyone else, but such facilities are frequently even more scarce in the military.
There’s also the cold, brutal light of science to consider once again. It is objectively undeniable that a certain percentage of the population is gay or bisexual (or else you guys have been doing one hell of a job faking it for all of recorded history) while others are straight. There is no repeatable science available to indicate that an otherwise healthy person with a properly formed XX or XY marker in their 23rd chromosomal pair is anything other than the gender identified by those markers.
Further, there comes the question of qualifications for various assignments, including combat duty. A lesbian needs to meet the same physical requirements to qualify as her straight sister-in-arms. Ditto for the gay and straight men. But when you start swapping out the uniforms we run into yet another bucket of complications. Men who “identify” as women probably won’t have much trouble meeting the standards, but any female troops “identifying” as men are probably going to wash out more than 99% of the time.
To borrow some parlance from the kids these days, I ain’t hatin’, I’m just sayin’.
Taking the ongoing SJW debate over transgender issues out of the civilian arena and into the military environment was always going to be a sticking point. In America we live in a generally free society and bend over backward to let everyone express themselves however they wish as long as they aren’t interfering with the privacy and rights of their fellow citizens. The military is simply a different world and it’s one where you sign away some of your fundamental rights (including free speech among others) when you take the oath. And the requirements for living in a frequently cramped, high pressure society such as that, along with the need for uniformity to obtain optimal force performance don’t allow for the same range of self-expression.
I don’t have a working crystal ball, so I don’t know if this ban is going to last into the future, but for the here and now, that’s where I come down on the subject. You may fire up the torches while I now go and put on my asbestos long johns.