This morning President Trump announced that transgender individuals would no longer be allowed to serve in the US Armed Forces.
No legislative process.
No debate. No discussion. Just three tweets.
After consultation with my Generals and military experts, please be advised that the United States Government will not accept or allow Transgender individuals to serve in any capacity in the U.S. Military. Our military must be focused on decisive and overwhelming victory and cannot be burdened with the tremendous medical costs and disruption that transgender in the military would entail. Thank you
Consultation with “my generals”
“Focused on decisive and overwhelming victory”
Decisive and overwhelming victory.
Leaving aside for the moment this idiotic backwards decision, the wording of this official comment is some despot level rhetoric. My Generals. Decisive and overwhelming victory. That’s the kind of thing a megalomaniac dictator says right before he starts talking about himself in the Third Person.
What’s that? Trump already talks about himself in the Third Person?
Well, there you go.
Who are these generals?
Who are these supposed “military experts?”
Don’t we have a right to know?
Doesn’t the military have a right to know?
After all, the Pentagon this morning refused to answer any questions, claimed no knowledge of the decision, and referred all questions to the White House. No one in command of the military had any knowledge of this decision. The Secretary of Defense is traveling and out of communication. Congress wasn’t consulted. The last Executive Order signed by Trump was on July 21st, regarding Strengthening Manufacturing and Industrial Base and Supply Chain Resiliency, nothing to do with banning trans people from serving in the US military.
Right now, those charged with implementing this policy have no direction at all, none, other than a couple of tweets.
Think about how utterly bizarre that is.
Think about all the hundreds of thousands of people this affects, whether it be directly because they are transgender or indirectly because they are the military and civilian personnel charged with implementing policy, or the officers charged with overseeing it, or the JAGs charged with military law, or the personnel managers, the accountants. What about the benefits people at Veterans Affairs? Because even if you throw them out, trans veterans are still veterans, they’re still entitled to benefits – unless they’re not. How do you know without more direction than a couple of tweets? Somebody must figure out the details. When does this go into effect? Now? Later? Is there a date?
These generals, these experts, if they are not at the Pentagon, where are they? Who are they? What are their qualifications? What is their experience? Because, these generals, these experts, where is their analysis? Where is their plan for implementation? Where is the legislation? The public debate? Where is the signed law? Where are the Executive Orders? Where is the Secretary of Defense? Where is the Secretary of Veterans Affairs? And the Attorney General? What’s his plan for the inevitable legal challenge before the Supreme Court?
I mean, this is a decision that backtracks on social progress.
This is a decision that appears to be a solution in search of a problem.
This is a decision that affects society, government, the military, and has wide ranging aspects that involve all of us as a nation.
Given conservatives’ track record, given Republicans’ unending phobia and fixation on all things LGBT, given the Right’s open and unabashed religion-fueled agenda of bigotry and intolerance, are we not forced to suspect that this decision was less about military readiness and more about discrimination?
So, don’t we have a right to know who these generals are and what they said?
Don’t we have a right to challenge that position? To demand proof? To review the evidence? To petition the government for redress of wrongs?
Don’t we have a right, a duty, to know who these “military experts” are? What is their expertise? What is their experience? What is their position in government, in the military, in society? What do they base their advice on? Can they provide actual evidence and data to back up their claims? When did they last serve? For how long? In what capacity?
Who are these people?
Because Trump has a habit of picking advisers who are completely and utterly unqualified in their supposed areas of expertise.
So, who the hell are these people?
It seems to me that these are the questions we should be asking.
It seems to me that these are the questions the press should be asking.
Because from this series of tweets – once again official statements in accordance with Presidential decree – it appears cost is the primary factor in Trump’s decision.
Whoever it was Trump consulted with, cost seems to be their primary concern.
“Tremendous medical costs.”
Trump offers no reference to any study supporting his statement.
Trump hasn’t produced these so-called experts to explain this “tremendous medical costs and disruption that transgender in the military would cause.”
In fact, the primary study of transgender in the military is a Rand Corporation assessment entitled “Assessing the Implications of Allowing Transgender Personnel to Serve Openly” which was commissioned by the military and says exactly the opposite. That study, the official study used by the military, says the impact and costs of allowing transgender individuals to serve openly in the military are low and would likely have no impact on readiness or budget.
Once again, the Commander in Chief made a statement of unsupported right-wing rhetoric. He references some shadowy unnamed “experts” and then proceeds to a snap decision via social media that impacts tens of thousands of people without any thought to the consequences or the fallout whatsoever.
Again, this is creationism in action. This is the same kind of faulty reasoning and unicorn logic creationists use.
Again, this is modern Republicanism on display, a political ideology that equates all questions to cost, because with neo-conservatism everything is tainted by the Prosperity Gospel, everything is about money. Everything. Even when it’s not really about money, money is always the first justification conservatives trot out. As if pretending it was about money instead of bigotry is somehow acceptable, as if anyone is fooled.
A few weeks ago, I wrote a long piece on Republican efforts to repeal and replace The Affordable Healthcare Act, i.e. Obamacare.
As research, I asked my social media audience, “Is healthcare a basic human right?”
Overwhelmingly liberals and progressives agreed that it was. But, overwhelmingly, conservatives, those who touted their Christianity in their profiles like a badge of honor, said that it wasn’t. Conservatives said that healthcare couldn’t be a right specifically because it would cost too much.
Think about that.
Think about the basis of rights being money.
As I noted in that essay, when you believe rights are the entitlement of only those who can afford them, it’s not long before you start thinking that those who can’t afford rights are property – or garbage.
But here’s the funny thing: Let’s say for argument’s sake, cost really was a factor with transgender service personnel. It’s not, but let’s run with that for a minute.
What other conditions are costly?
No no. Don’t look away. Don’t change the subject or try to move the goalposts. If cost is the factor, shouldn’t our military consist of only unencumbered healthy individuals? The cheapest soldiers we can find? Literally the most bang for the buck?
Shouldn’t any individual who develops poor eyesight, damaged hearing, broken bones, bullet holes, cancer, or a family be immediately discharged? I mean…
Oh, the family thing. Right. Families are costly. Didn’t you know?
Food, clothing, medical care, housing, pay and benefits and allowances, moving them around the world, security, education. Military families are expensive. Hugely expensive.
And there is one hell of a lot more military families than there are transgender service personal.
So, if it’s about cost, shouldn’t we disallow any married person from serving?
If cost is the factor, tremendous costs, then why not a military made up of just single personnel? Don’t laugh, a while back there was a certain general who tried to do exactly that. 1993, The Commandant of the Marine Corps General Carl Mundy Jr ordered a ban on enlisted married people. That’s right. Mundy decreed that the Corps would no longer accept married recruits because it was too expensive. Too expensive for the Corps, too expensive for junior Marines who couldn’t afford either the cost of a family or the distraction.
His order was overridden by Defense Secretary Les Aspin within hours of being issued, but there it is. There’s the precedent.
If transgender people cost too much, too much that the military can’t achieve victory, then shouldn’t we get rid of military families who cost orders of magnitude more? Shouldn’t we immediately discharge any service member who costs over a certain amount as determined by a baseline of young straight males in prime health?
Hell, the military spends five times more on Viagra than on transgender services.
That’s my question, that one right there: why just transgender?
If cost is the factor, then why just transgender?
Unless Trump was once again lying about his motivations and too cowardly to say what he and his “experts” really mean.
Featured image via elpasonews.org