The Supreme court recently voted to reinstate President Trump’s order to ban transgender individuals from the military, staying true to another one of his campaign promises and another one of his tweets. Starting with a tweet in July of 2017 that said, “the United States Government will not accept or allow… transgender individuals to serve in any capacity in the U.S. Military.” Trump set out to reverse the Obama administration-era policy that allowed transgender people to openly serve. The vote, 5-4, showcases the effect of the recent conservative majority in our nation’s highest court.
The logic for the transgender ban follows similar logic of the now-repealed “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell Policy,” which was a former ban of openly gay, lesbian and bisexual individuals from military service. The argument then was that homosexual individuals “would create an unacceptable risk to the high standards of morale, good order and discipline, and unit cohesion that are the essence of military capability.” However, DADT provided protections for closeted homosexual service members. As long as they did not “act questionably,” their superiors could not ask about their sexual orientation. Essentially, people could not express their sexuality while in military service.
In a memo advising Trump last year, now former Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis wrote that allowing transgender people to serve “could undermine readiness, disrupt unit cohesion, and impose an unreasonable burden on the military that is not conducive to military effectiveness and lethality.” Interestingly enough, Mattis resigned over “policy differences” last month. This gives me reasonable doubt over whether the memo was actually based within his actual thoughts about the subject. Whether he ultimately believes in a transgender ban or not, Mattis’s words still have a major impact on people’s perception of the issue.
Another reason that Trump wants to instate a ban on transgender service people is that providing and upkeeping gender reassignment is too expensive for the military to bear. However, in 2016, the RAND corporation, a nonprofit global policy thinktank, stated that transgender service members would have “a minimal impact on readiness and health care costs” and “little or no impact on unit cohesion, operational effectiveness or readiness.”
When representatives from the Navy, Army and Marines were asked whether there were any “issues of unit cohesion, disciplinary problems or issues of morale resulting from open transgender service,” it was communicated that there are no current reports of any issues stemming from transgender service people. This information was shared during a Senate Armed Forces budget meeting last April. Each branch of the military communicated that they are aware of who their transgender service people are, and were monitoring the situation on a case by case basis.
There is enough evidence to show that this ban on transgender people joining the military has nothing to do with the reasons that the Trump administration has laid out. The ban has no real bearing in logical or rational reality. We can call it what it is: transphobic policy. It has nothing to do with the finances involved, nor does it risk impacting cohesion or effectiveness of our military.
People do not join the military for fun; they do it to serve their country. It has nothing to do with gay men or lesbian women trying to sexually prey on people in their unit, and they aren’t there to harass people of the same sex. I’ll say it again: they are there to serve their country. If someone has an issue with someone else’s sexuality, whose problem is it really? The person who is LGBTQ+, or the person who is overly concerned with what another person does in their private time?
It’s time to lay to rest the myth that gay and transgender individuals are dangerous predators. Are the risks involved with enlisting in the service as an LGBT+ person not enough to prove they are invested in their career? We can’t let this ban go through. We can’t move backwards. LGBT people only gained the right to be openly gay in the military in 2011. We can’t take such a step back in history.