President Trump’s tweet on transgender personnel serving in the military has generated enormous controversy, but – besides the incredibly idiotic way it was announced (I’m sure PACOM now has a staff duty officer whose sole function is to look at Trump’s twitter feed for “I’m going to war with North Korea”) – the actual issue is being buried in the weeds of emotion.
First off, even though I’ll be tarred and feathered with the following slurs, let me say upfront I’m not homophobic. I’m not transphobic. I don’t wish any ill will to the LGBT community at all, but I agree with a prohibition against transgender personnel enlisting in the military, and it’s solely based on the purpose for which the military is designed: To fight and win our nation’s wars, period.
Before I’m castigated as a bigot, my issue is a simple one: The transgender enlistee requires medical care after enlistment. Gender dysphoria is a medical condition. Plain and simple. It doesn’t make one any less of a human than someone diagnosed with high blood pressure or a curved spine, but it does require medical care. Beyond the hyperventilating about discrimination or hate, that fact – like the above-mentioned maladies – is a reason for disqualification.
In the past, the US military had one purpose: To defend our nation. The individual voluntarily succumbed to the greater national good. If the individual benefitted, it was secondary to the cause of the nation. Now, certain individuals have eclipsed the purpose for serving, and the military has assumed a secondary role of some cultural touchstone whereby serving is an individual right.
Why should someone be allowed to enlist, knowing that the enlistment will entail medical costs due to mental health management, hormone treatments, and other procedures up to and including gender reassignment surgery – not to mention the lost work productivity for all of the above? Why is that fair to the millions of others who wish to serve who also have a medical condition? Or even a non-medical condition, such as being a single parent or having a wrong tattoo? Why is it fair to allow a transgender to enlist – knowing the medical costs on the other side from the time of enlistment – when someone with high blood pressure cannot? That’s treatable. If he or she is otherwise fit to serve, why not enlist him or her, and begin treatment?
In an extreme example, why not let someone in with cancer? Why couldn’t John McCain, in an earlier life, have shown up to Annapolis with a brain tumor? After all, in hindsight, we know what he’s capable of. Why not treat it, and let him serve? Going further, as the military is looking for the best and the brightest, what if Lance Armstrong had enlisted right after winning the Tour de France? He takes his entrance physical and finds he has testicular cancer. Why should that be disqualifying? We know on the face that he’s capable of serving. Let him in, treat the cancer, and let him serve. That’s hyperbole, of course, but it makes my point. There is no overwhelming reason to incur the costs of medical care for any individual, and because of it, the military has a cut-line of medical restrictions for enlistment. In the words of Spock – the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few. Unless, of course, you have a vocal lobby in congress. Then the military mission becomes secondary to an individual’s “right” to serve.
I hear a lot of talking heads saying “we need whoever can best serve. We’re cutting our recruitment base when we discriminate”, but that misses a banal truth: The military is built on medical discrimination, and that discrimination is based on its mission. There is a reason you don’t see any soldiers taking the oath of enlistment from a wheel chair, and it’s not because the military hates handicapped persons. It’s because the military is not a social construct. It is a war machine, and it is designed to close with and kill the enemy, period. There are hundreds of different medical conditions that prevent one from serving, and saying we’re losing out on recruits by banning transgender personnel is a red herring. Why not say the same about flat feet, like they did in 1941?
At the start of World War Two, the United States had a population of 133 million people. At the end of World War Two the Army was about eight million strong. Today, the US population is over 300 million, and the Army has fewer than 500 thousand soldiers. The recruitment argument holds no weight. The bottom line is that emotion has taken sway over common sense. It is not the military’s job to create a position for the individual to self-actualize – especially if that self-actualization entails medical treatment at taxpayer expense. I feel for the transgender community, but no more than I do for the person with a hyperthyroid disorder or asthma. Neither can enter the military, but one has a political lobby that treats this as a civil rights issue. It is not.
Yes, there are transgender personnel who have served honorably while hiding their condition, just as there are thousands of soldiers who hide other medical conditions to serve, but that is not an argument to alter the enlistment standards. I know of a soldier who wanted to be a pilot, but found out he was color blind, which was a disqualifying condition for pilot training. He joined the Army instead of the Air Force, and then, after joining Special Forces, he learned that color blindness was also disqualifying for becoming a free-fall parachutist. He decided to hide it, ripping out any reference to colorblindness from his medical records and going to extraordinary lengths to pass the color vision tests over and over again. He succeeded for over a twenty-five year military career, but he would be the first to tell you that we shouldn’t drop color vision as a discriminator for HALO status. It’s there for a reason, as he discovered on a harrowing night jump.
The fact remains that gender dysphoria is a medical condition, and that diagnosis requires medical treatment the same as a host of other disqualifying medical ailments. A recent RAND study is routinely held up as showing that the medical costs incurred by transgender enlistments is negligible – a veritable drop in the bucket to the overall defense budget – and that may be true, but it’s also irrelevant. The same could be said of the majority of ailments currently proscribing one from serving. (Which also begs the question, if it’s so negligible, it’s proof that so few transgender are serving that the recruitment argument is meaningless. Why are we pole-vaulting over mouse turds for such a small minority?) Should we now simply drop all medical discriminators? Or is it just the LGBT community that gets the benefit? Why can’t someone with high cholesterol get in? Sure, they’re at risk for heart disease, but it’s treatable – and the cost would be negligible when compared to the overall defense budget. What about vision tests? A person disqualified from serving due to poor eyesight that could be fixed simply by a Lasik procedure? Why don’t we let all of them in, and give them the procedure – something that’s a hell of a lot cheaper than gender reassignment surgery? That, too, would be a drop in the bucket when compared to the overall defense budget, but do we really want the military to be in the business of fixing every problematic medical condition so that every single person who wishes to serve gets the ability to do so? Sooner or later, it’s no longer a drop in the bucket, and it’s a Pandora’s box that doesn’t need to be opened for the simple fact that it is unnecessary. A single day lost or a single dollar spent due to gender dysphoria is one too many, and it’s patently unfair to others who wish to serve but are denied that ability due to a medical condition outside of their control.
At the end of the day, we need to remember the mission of the military. The LGBT community has turned this into a crusade, but it doesn’t alter the facts. The military is not built to serve the individual, but the other way around. The individual serves the military – and by extension, the nation. It is a shame that an accident of genetics caused someone to be transgender, and thus disqualified, but no more so than my friend’s genetic abnormality with color vision. His desire to be a pilot in no way translates to our nation’s obligation to let him become one.
The transgender community is estimated at 0.6 percent of the US population. The rate of disqualifying high blood pressure in the typical age for enlistment, per the American Heart Association, is 9 percent. Where is the outrage over the nine percent with hypertension? A completely treatable condition? Why does the fraction of a percentage of the transgender community have a cudgel to pound, as if that population somehow holds greater sway than the millions of others with treatable medical conditions?
Take away the emotion, take away the tweets, take away the hyperbole on both sides of the aisle, and you’re still left with one immutable fact: A transgender individual has a medical condition that requires treatment, and that, in and of itself, is disqualifying. It has nothing to do with gender, bigotry, or intolerance, and everything to do with the mission of the US Armed Forces. The mission is what it is, and bending the security of the nation’s defense to placate a vocal minority is not enhancing our ability to prosecute it.
Before I get the question: If transgender personnel are currently serving in good standing based on a prior decision by the Secretary of Defense, then they remain, getting whatever medical treatment was promised by that decision. It is not their fault they came out based on a promise by the SECDEF, and a promise is a promise. This blog is solely focused on future enlistments for the reasons I described. For the uninitiated – In 2016, Secretary of Defense Carter stated that transgender personnel could now openly serve, but future enlistments would be on hold until a study could determine the impact. That study is currently underway, and this blog is solely input into the future enlistment question, not retroactively rescinding a decision – and thus punishing – those already serving.
I am a veteran from a long tradition of serving. My son, who was diagnosed with Addison’s Disease at age 14 was refused enlistment based on that diagnoses. The disease is easily managed by a regular regimen of taking inexpensive cortisone pills. It is also interesting to note. That former President John F. Kennedy, a naval war hero had Addison/s disease. Your monologue is well researched and well written.
Love your books but you are on the wrong side of this issue. Six years USMC Vietnam era vet. If you can fight, you fight. There are many medical issues the military has to deal with, there are no perfect soldiers. One more thing to take care of is no big deal. Let whomever wants to serve, serve. The world has changed and the military has always been at the forefront of change in our society. Don’t diminish this sacred role.
Thank you for the praise for the books! I will say that you, like others, treat this as a moral issue. I do not. Yes, there ARE many medical issues the military has to deal with, which is precisely the reason they weed them out at enlistment. When you have to treat medical conditions after the fact, why ask for that up front? The fact remains that it’s not fair to others, as the comment above yours articulates. I don’t treat it as a moral issue, and people who do – in my mind – actually diminish the transgender community. Basically, someone with bad eyesight is a “normal human” and thus worthy of denying entrance to the military, but someone who is transgender is “special” and now needs the support and help to allow him/her to achieve his/her goals, to include the taxpayer covering his treatment. I have no issue with transgender serving – and in fact, if they complete transition (however far they choose that to be) before enlistment, and prove they are no longer a medical burden at enlistment, then bring it on.
Reducing being transgender to a medical condition and basing your entire argument on it is a flawed approach to take, though. Transgender people may or may not elect to take hormone treatments. That’s their choice, it’s up to them, and who pays for those elective treatments is purely a side matter.
I don’t see the connection between any of it and serving in the military. The talk about disqualifying conditions is a total red herring. It presumes there’s some aspect about being transgender that *is* disqualifying. But you never demonstrated any. Certainly not any commentary on whether or not it actually might affect readiness or performance or any other relevant skill, in the ways that color blindness and high blood pressure *actually* do.
There’s plenty of medical conditions out there which are nonetheless completely, completely benign. In order to support the argument transgender people should not be allowed to serve, you’d actually need to demonstrate *how* being transgender makes them incapable of serving. That they may or may not want to take some pills, which may or may not be paid for by their employer, certainly isn’t enough evidence in that direction. 😉
All I would have you do is read the DSM on the condition. It is, in fact, a medical condition that requires treatment. Whether someone decides to ignore the treatment is not a part of the equation. Yes, you can’t predict that every individual will have a medical response that excludes their ability to serve, but neither can you with someone who has high blood pressure. The military doesn’t have the time to analyze every single individual based on that specific persons condition as to whether he/she would or would not be a discriminator for enlistment. It’s why books like the DSM exist.
I’ve read the DSM on the condition, and I’m not seeing the poignancy of it. Again, you’re starting from the presumption there’s something disqualifying about being transgender. The DSM doesn’t provide that context in the slightest. High blood pressure has demonstrated disqualifying problems, though, hasn’t it? Being transgender hasn’t.
You could make the exact same comment about a plethora of disqualifying conditions. Why is high blood pressure disqualifying, other than it requires treatment – much like hormone treatment for a transgender? Are you implying that high blood pressure somehow affects the ability to aim a rifle? My point isn’t that a transgender is somehow unable to fire a weapon, but simply – like a multitude of conditions – requires treatment that isn’t incumbent on the US taxpayer to provide when there is a man or woman to the left and right who does NOT require any medical care. That’s it, period. Any argument otherwise is discriminatory to everyone else who wants to serve and also has a medical condition. The fact remains that we have a large enough recruiting base to serve our needs without providing medical support at the outset, and the only reason we’re even discussing this is for moral reasons that have nothing to do with serving the nation.
Yeah, you could scrutinize why each disqualifying condition is disqualifying, and there are probably at least a good few which probably shouldn’t be disqualifying, such is bureaucracy. In the case of high blood pressure, I imagine the problem is the accumulated damage it can do to the brain, the heart, and the blood vessels, and I suppose physically demanding and stressful circumstances exacerbate the condition, perhaps even leading to strokes. I’ve never done a case study on why each disqualifying medical question is disqualifying, but I’ve never seen anyone provide a rationale on why being transgender is disqualifying.
But you keep saying being transgender requires treatment, and, first off, it doesn’t require anything. It’s a personal choice if transgender people wish to pursue treatment in order for their body to produce secondary sexual characteristics. Second off, whether they pay for it for themselves or insurance does is a non-issue, as far as whether or not they should be able to serve. And who pays for an elective treatment isn’t a reason for barring them from service, honestly. 😉
No, I didn’t say transgender requires treatment (or at least I didn’t mean to. I obviously wasn’t clear). I said gender dysphoria requires treatment. I understand one can be trans and not rise to the level of being diagnosed with gender dysphoria, in which case one doesn’t have a disorder and can get in. You can say one can choose not to be treated, but the fact remains that once the ban was lifted, the trans who began serving openly immediately began requesting treatment. I’ve read a multitude of OPEDS over the past few days of trans folks detailing their service, and in every one they were in the process of getting hormone treatments, electrolysis for hair removal, gender reassignment surgery, etc etc. I’m not disparaging their service at all, only saying that such treatments should not be the burden of the taxpayer. Finally, the reason that SECDEF Carter ordered the military to pay for treatment was precisely the mental burden non-treatment left the transgender (with gender dysphoria), to include a significant increase in suicides. That person, without treatment, belongs nowhere near a combat zone. Finally, you make my point. Yes, hypertension could lead to a stroke, but properly treated, the person lives a normal life. Should the taxpayer be on the hook for that treatment from the outset, when standing to the left and right is someone who has no medical conditions?
Am I right in understanding, though, that the ban is on being transgender itself, and not only for those whom a clinical examination diagnoses as suffering from gender dysphoria?
As you’ve said, there’s nothing inherent to being transgender itself that is disqualifying. Probably similar to being divorced. Some people will indeed become depressed from being divorced, perhaps even to the point of suicide, and they don’t belong near a combat zone, either….
Maybe the taxpayer *should* be on the hook for treating soldiers’ high blood pressure? They want to serve, it’s not a true disqualifying condition it seems, and I hardly think scrutinizing the budget expenditures on soldiers’ healthcare is honestly the place to start in Washington. Without studying all the disqualifying conditions and their treatments and the costs, of course, I couldn’t say exactly where to draw the line between them, but that’s kind of the point here — the indications I’ve seen are that any costs are a true pittance, relatively speaking, because the incidence of transgender people serving is quite small (say, compared to those who need Viagra prescribed for whichever reasons), and these objections honestly haven’t risen from a budgetary standpoint; that’s just something they came up with later. 😉
Honestly, I think you’re missing the point of the military. Just because someone WANTS to serve does not mean the taxpayer should pay for his ability to do so due to treating his/her medical condition, and that means high blood pressure or otherwise. The bottom line is that the military is under no obligation to matriculate you into the military if you have a medical disorder, period. Look at it this way: Say the military needs ten bodies, and fifteen show up. Out of them, one has gender dysphoria, one has 20/300 eyesight, one has asthma, and one hypertension. The other eleven are in perfect health. Why should the military be forced to take any of the other four simply for some political reason – especially if they only need ten? It makes no sense on the surface, but becomes some sort of civil rights issue when it happens. As for the “ban” on being transgender, currently, there’s only a tweet. All policies remain in effect as before the tweet, which is to say, transgender personnel already in can serve openly, and the elistment of future transgender personnel is on hold pending a study of the impact. My blog is not describing what has or will happen, only my viewpoint.
I do get the point of the military, though, and I agree with your example of fifteen showing up with only ten needed.
I’m simply saying I see no reason to think being transgender should be considered a medical condition in the first place. I can see how gender dysphoria is, past a certain threshold, of course, and would agree with a clinical assessment taking place to determine whether a transgender person who wants to serve is either suffering from it or at a heightened risk. No different than taking an eye exam. But that isn’t anywhere near what they are talking about.
I do get this is only your viewpoint, but you originally equated being transgender with gender dysphoria, “The transgender enlistee requires medical care after enlistment”, and I wanted to address that, because it’s not true, but you did clarify there’s a difference, so that’s great. The only problem is they’re talking about banning transgender people in general, and that’s sad…
“but you originally equated being transgender with gender dysphoria, “The transgender enlistee requires medical care after enlistment”, and I wanted to address that, because it’s not true,”
Yeah, that was sloppy writing, and I’m catching hell about it all over. I should have been more precise.
Brad I appreciate your article. I am trans and I recognize the support. Trans people have served. I served. It was just meant to be understood that it no longer would be a disqualifying condition. Treatment is a medical issue like you said.
Thank you. And thank you for your service!
Definely agree with you; just reading my 1rst book; having lived by fll , l noticed and was approached by men in tan pants, white buttoned down shirts with black hair – l told amongst other things; people knew who they were but were apathetic – would love to talk to you; 5 – to 10 minute conversation l think you might believe. I am terrible on email but go ahead, forgive me if l am tardy, l am better on a phone – will give you a phone number if you email me.
I got a 1Y classification after diagnosis of narcolepsy. I was 18. They said I would grow out of it, but not on their time. So, I was a reject. Sure enough, I grew out of it. Took 10 years.
Thank you for the only intelligent discussion on this subject.
Your argument is a convincing one (You won me over) but I am interested to hear your take with respect to the specific situation at hand: The President of the United States tweeted his intention to ban a group of people, whom you note in your blog are currently serving, from serving in the military. I feel that your heart (and mind) are in the right place with regard to the issue in the abstract, but the nuance of how this issue bullied its way onto the front page of our collective dialogue seems ill-addressed in your post. For instance: http://www.businessinsider.com/trump-transgender-ban-border-wall-bill-2017-7 If true, this seems to indicate that the President did not ‘confer with his Generals’ but instead hastily tweeted nonsense for sake of his political dealings. What are your thoughts?
One additional thought: Once enlisted, many soldiers receive LASIK Surgery, Breast Enhancement Surgery, Blood Pressure Medication and many other treatments and medications that to the layman may seem superfluous. These are not always service-connected. The idea seems to be that if you find yourself the victim of any malady, whether service-related or not, Tri-Care and/or the VA has your back…but only once you have enlisted or been commissioned. (Note: I have no data for this statement; merely anecdotal experience.) As we develop more as a nation and healthcare access becomes less and less of an issue, many of the previously disqualifying factors you mentioned (High BP, Color-blindness, etc.) will be treatable with little upfront cost and at least four years of productivity as ROI. Gender Dysphoria is bound to be one of those items. So, if we can treat these people for ‘drops in the bucket’ for the vast majority of positions in the military, what is to be lost by beginning to openly allow them in? As with everything, moderation is key, but it seems less of a vault and more of a slightly longer-step at that point, no?
Thanks for your time.
You can’t get free implants while in the military. http://www.military.com/spouse/military-benefits/questions-benefits-how-do-i-get-my-free-military-plastic-surgery.html
You should probably re-read the article you posted as it supports my position.
They aren’t free, but prior to 911 our military did do the surgery for non cost but the implants were paid by the patient. The reason the implants surgery was free was to give the plastic surgeons the experience. We did not have enough patients or needs at that time. Since the amount of injured has reduced from the war, they may have restarted the program.
Thank you for being a voice of reason on this matter. Appreciated your point of view.
There are hundreds of reasons that precluded people from become service members. This issue is third rail of public discussion and I applaud you Colonel for speaking up. You’ll lose fans. But they will leave for the wrong reason. They will leave because they don’t understand that this isn’t a moral issue. Its not a judgement. Too many people accuse you of looking at this the wrong way, but I look at it this way… They are viewing it as a moral or religious judgment. I recently read that between 1600 and 6600 transgenders are currently serving. Since HIPAA prevents releasing records, I can only assume that there was a survey and self-reporting. (Can anyone else see the fallacy in that?) As a career military man that hes been downrange, in harm’s way, you know well better than most and for that, I respect your opinion on this matter. As for a previous comment, not everyone that want to serve can… or should. if not for the previous policy, what would prevent someone from arguing for any of the other medical preclusions from applying and then suing for exclusion? What would prevent someone that wanted gender reassignment surgery and treatment from using the military as the path for medical treatment that they couldn’t otherwise afford. Too often the military has been a testbed for social experiments. Its not that any more than a police or fire department is. I would opine that most people trying to keep a job would have a different opinion if they learned that because a fellow employee was transgender and needed treatments and surgery, that they and others would have to be laid off or that the health insurance premiums would rise 300%, Its easy to be for some abstract concept,
First, Loved all your books to date.
I agree with all that you said as too why NOT a transgender person should not be allowed to serve while undergoing treatment. The individual serves the MILITARY period.
When you get right down to it, Billy who just got shot in the field, doesn’t care who comes to pull him back out of the line of fire as long as someone does.
There’s a lot more to be said, but I for one am tired of the” give me society and the you owe me society”, , I’d rather see this country get back to THE how can I help and how can I make things better ideals, that seem to have been lost in this country.
With respect, I’m not sure you have a good understanding of what the DSM actually and how its compares to other, let’s say, physical illnesses. On one, I believe, we should look at mental health in a similar way we do to medical conditions in the sense that people become depressed as similar to catching a cold. On the other hand, to put gender dysphoria in the same camp as cancer is not an apples to apples comparison. So much of mental health, and the constructs underlying mental health diagnoses, are based on social norms (what we as a society collectively consider “normal”). If you want to get into who gets to decide what “normal” is, we’ll have to save that discussion for another day (well OK, for the DSM it’s a bunch of psychiatrists that conduct and read research and rarely actually interact with clients; as for society’s view of normal, yes, another day). A key distinction, you can’t live with cancer without treatment while you can live with gender dysphoria without treatment. Additionally, I can cut out, touch, point to, and kill cancer; I con’t do any of these things to a mental disorder. Just being trans does not mean you have a disorder – you must experience significant distress. If you had supportive parents, family members, and/or friends – gender reassignment (if you so chose) may not be nearly as arduous a process and you may suffer minimal distress. Hell, if you did suffer distress it’s possible to work through it on your own or with help. In these cases he or she would be “trans” but would not be considered to have a disorder. An example closer to home might be the case of religion or spirituality. Many people believe in God or some other deity(ies), many of these people feel that this being(s) has a direct impact on their life and even speaks to them and changes things in the physical world around them. Are they schizophrenic; they are hitting on a lot criteria? Any skilled clinician would say “no” their belief is socially appropriate, it doesn’t harm anyone else, it doesn’t affect the person’s functioning, and it may even provide benefit to the person – a protective factor as it were. I’m not here to pass judgement on the beliefs of others. As far as I know these beliefs could be completely true; but the DSM-V at a glance would not confirm that.
My point is, your writing here reflects a fundamental misunderstanding of mental health, the diagnosis process, and the DSM-V. The DSM-V is not a dictionary anyone can pick up and use. Your comparison of mental health disorders to medical illness is inaccurate and misleading, and in your position as a public figure, I find this irresponsible. While I do understand your position and point that the military shouldn’t be taking care of people with ‘preexisting conditions’ so to speak (there’s that buzzword), you must wonder what other specific populations currently exist in the military with specific needs. Are the health conditions faced by women in the military equal to those of men? Is it a “marginal” difference in cost? Maybe they shouldn’t be allowed to serve either. Do the requirements of your specific religion or spiritual preference come in second to your country’s needs/rules? If so, to what extent can we ignore those rights? My point is that this is much more complicated issue than saying “hey look at the DSM-V, it supports my belief so [insert group] must all be unfit to serve.”
Also, why even target a specific population in this way at all, especially if it is so marginal? People with diagnosed disorders lie to get in and are even sometimes encouraged by recruiters to lie to enlist. Why not do a more thorough screening if this is a real problem? Why is it that the military’s views of mental health so archaic? You can overcome depression, anxiety, and several other general-specific disorders without medication or undue cost. But if you have a history of ANY disorder you may be denied entry. Even existing treatment within the military is dated: “dur dur manualize everything – CBT for PTSD.” People just don’t work that way. Rant over. Sorry for this last paragraph.
A) I specifically said the cancer analogy was hyperbole. B) as you state, simply being trans does not rise to the level of gender dysphoria. If you don’t rise to that level, and can work through the issue yourself, then you don’t have a disorder. Thus, you can get in. C) saying others get in by lying is not an argument for becoming lax. D) this is “targeting” a “specific group” only because it’s in the news. It’s no more targeting a specific, marginal group than those with any other disorder – such as ADHD, which is disqualifying and not something I can “carve out”. The fact remains that if I need one person, and I have one who’s perfectly healthy, and another who is not, why do I take the one who is not, mental or physical? The bottom line is it is not necessary as we have plenty of able bodied recruits, and it has only become a moral issue due to the nature of the disorder.
Let me first apologize for the grammar and punctuation in my initial post. Writing dissertation. Brain = Fried egg. Also, thank you for taking the time to respond to my post. I know you didn’t have to do that, and I know it’s more of pain when it’s someone who disagrees with your way of thinking. I mean that globally: you’re as sure you’re right about this as I am about my point of view, and I believe that to be true for all of us. Here goes:
“All I would have you do is read the DSM on the condition. It is, in fact, a medical condition that requires treatment.” Perhaps I should have responded directly to that comment.
(A & B.) Though you stated it was an exaggeration you ran with the theme of that argument throughout the post and in your comments. For example, “Yes, there are transgender personnel who have served honorably while hiding their condition, just as there are thousands of soldiers who hide other medical conditions to serve, but that is not an argument to alter the enlistment standards.” So even though these healthy persons who happen to be transgender (and somehow remained healthy while hiding it) made it through and contributed to the organization, others like them should be screened out in the future?
Perhaps it’s a clarity issue, but the insinuation you make is that being transgender IS a medical disorder, when really gender dysphoria is the disorder (and for the record, it’s not medical it’s mental/behavioral). If you don’t believe that being transgender and having gender dysphoria are the same thing you should perhaps clarify that next time you write on this topic. I would also like to add the the LGBT community is on as much of a “crusade” as those who think it’s “immoral” (Hey! There’s where morality enters!), people have been murdered over this.
(C.) I actually suggested just the opposite of becoming lax. I suggested more thorough screening. You know, so we can rule out the disorder not the person?
(D.) First, I really hope “carve out” was a figure of speech and not a poor attempt at a pun. Second, I should clarify that I wasn’t directly accusing you of targeting; I understand that you are responding to a social issue that’s received some recent media attention. I am however accusing Trump and perhaps some of his supporters for targeting (perhaps you fit in this camp, I don’t know). As YOU said, the military doesn’t target people with other specific disorders like ADHD (which can be treated/grown out of), but there was just big announcement (or Tweet rather) that this specific disorder deserved more attention and the military was in on it. When was the last time the president made an announcement about ADHD, depression, or anxiety – those are far more common? Further, given the timeliness of this article, I was assuming that you were supporting the statement made by president Trump (“the United States government will no longer accept … Transgender individuals to serve in the military in any capacity in the US military”) or at least suggesting that it wasn’t a big deal (given the title of your post). I should point out that the president, like you, did not distinguish between the mental health disorder gender dysphoria and being transgender. In my opinion, that is what makes this targeting; and yes, maybe I do believe picking on specific groups is wrong. It’s targeting because all other disorders being ‘equal’ this is the group that was called out and this is the group YOU are writing about because it got media attention. Does that make this a moral argument? I guess because it’s important to me you could draw that conclusion, but I think it’s also logical to look at these actions as basic discrimination or injustice (or at least an attempt at it). I mean, if people with preexisting conditions are already screened out why make an announcement like that at all? Unless of course you think it means something morally, something that people will think is ‘good,’ or maybe something that will ‘stir the pot.’ And why not state the disorder, unless of course, you don’t see a difference between someone who is transgender and someone with a gender dysphoria diagnosis?
What’s your deal with moral arguments anyway? Almost all argument are. Our country was founded on moral principles after all. Our constitution speaks of liberty and happiness, what are these if not rights? What are rights if not ideals, or ideals if not values or morals?
Long post, but I’ll just address a few things: One, this blog was in no way designed to be a treatise on the grandeur encapsulation of the problems associated with transgender issues. Two, I’m not going to get into a debate on what transgenders have accomplished while “hiding it”, except to say that one transgender was Bradley/Chelsea Manning – and if you don’t think his/her conflict on his/her own identity didn’t factor in to his/her release of millions of top secret cables, then we’ll agree to disagree. Three, I admit – as I have done multiple times in the comments on this blog – that I was imprecise. I’m referring to gender dysphoria. I understand that that isn’t a blanket on transgender as a whole, and my entire point is that if you require medical treatment after enlistment, then you don’t enlist. I apologize yet again for my transgression. Four, the only reason this is being called out is PRECISELY the political implications of doing so. There is no political lobby for hypertension, and thus no reason for anyone to say a damn thing about it. Five, You misread my post. ADHD IS screened out, as are a host of other mental conditions. They just don’t warrant a tweet because nobody cares about them. Six, I apologize. I’ve been answering so many comments on so many platforms, I used the “carve out” metaphor incorrectly. I thought you’d said it. What I should have said, was “cut out, touch, point to, and kill cancer”. Seven, you state, “When was the last time the president made an announcement about ADHD, depression, or anxiety?” Yeah, he never has, because nobody cares if they’re prevented from enlisting. You prove my point. In my mind – as I said in the blog – it is no different than a host of other conditions. They’re just not fortunate enough to have a political lobby to scream on their behalf. In the end, my position is clear – if you require medical treatment after enlistment, then you don’t enlist. If you don’t (transgender included) then you get in. It has nothing to do with the political lobby of the color blind, asthmatic, or high blood pressure. Oh, wait, they don’t have a political lobby. And no, as I said in the blog, I firmly do not believe that any transgender currently serving should be released. That is a breach of faith – and coming from the military, it’s something I will fight for. I’m not making this a moral argument. Far from it, I’m making it black and white – everyone ELSE is. I make it a simple equation of the reality that the military has to live with: We have a population to recruit from, and that population is more than large enough to sustain the force. Why recruit someone that requires medical attention after the fact? There is no logical argument to do so. But some will ignore that for a moral one. And throwing out the “our nation was founded on morals” in no way helps the guy with ADHD. It only helps the transgender person.
Great post Brad and I need to start reading your books. But I would argue that leaving transgendered people in the military is a mistake. The military forces people out all the time due to needs of the service. I remember reading multiple articles about Marine NCO’s and SNCO’s from the infantry who were denied reenlistment because their MOS was full and there were no open MOS’s to transfer them too. The military has no need for trans members and thus no requirement to maintain them on active duty.
The military needs to change to keep up with 21 century threats. Russians walked through the front door of our government and didn’t leave their Lazy Boy. It’s estimate there will be 300 to 400 million displaced people this century if the climate trajectory continues from drought, famine, lack of fresh water, and flooding. This isn’t about fairness or discrimination. Our military need to reflect the society it serves and combat modern threats. The traditional soldier used to rush beaches of d day or hike forests of Vietnam. Now we need computer modelers, linguists, cyber security experts. Having women to calm women and children when clearing areas of Iraq was critical to accomplishing the mission. By filtering out wholesale any class of citizen before the military even consider the expertise needed creates an implicit bias that erodes the values. To rule out any class of citizens for any role before considering the skills of that person has no logic except a political one.
Very well written. I am so tired of people not getting the true point and you just said it perfectly. I have a son in the USMC. Thanks to Obama’s “changes” he is no longer feeling safe to go into war. The Marine Corps is the first in to fight. The toughest of all branches. Now they can’t even barely swear without getting into trouble. WTF?????????
So thank you for writing this beautiful statement. Thank you President Trump for having a pair of balls to get rid of all of this political correctness that has weakened our country! AND for donating your salary to help our country. Which I don’t recall any other president offering to do this yet alone following through with it! But of course! No one will give him credit for the positive changes he is making for this country. He is making America Great Again!
God Bless America 🇺🇸
Hello there. BLUF…..no such thing as transgender. You are born male or female. All your answers can be found in God word. The Bible. Have a Great weekend
You do realize that has nothing to do with reality
The military is not a place for social experimentation it is a place to wage war even though 0.6 comprised of the entire transgender population the expense would be enormous it would affect unit morale cohesion. Leave social experimentations in the controlled environment in which they belong the military is by far the worst place to try such experiments
You have to realize that transgender people have been serving in the military for hundreds of years it is not about anything more than a diagnosis and still being allowed to serve
Brad, spot on and I also believe Congressman Trey Gowdy sums it up very succinctly:
Trey Gowdy’s comments on the military (in response to the transgender situation).
Nobody has a “right” to serve in the Military. Nobody.
What makes people think the Military is an equal opportunity employer? Very far from it. The Military uses prejudice regularly and consistently to deny citizens from joining for being too old or too young, too fat or too skinny, too tall or too short. Citizens are denied for having flat feet, or for missing or additional fingers. Poor eyesight will disqualify you, as well as bad teeth. Malnourished? Drug addiction? Bad back? Criminal history? Low IQ? Anxiety? Phobias? Hearing damage? Six arms? Hear voices in your head? Self-identify as a Unicorn?
Need a special access ramp for your wheelchair? Can’t run the required course in the required time? Can’t do the required number of pushups? Not really a “morning person” and refuse to get out of bed before noon?
All can be reasons for denial. The Military has one job. War. Anything else is a distraction and a liability.
Did someone just scream “That isn’t Fair”? War is VERY unfair, there are no exceptions made for being special or challenged or socially wonderful.
YOU change yourself to meet Military standards. Not the other way around. I say again: You don’t change the Military… you must change yourself. The Military doesn’t need to accommodate anyone with special issues. The Military needs to Win Wars.
If any of your personal issues are a liability that detract from readiness or lethality… Thank you for applying and good luck in future endeavors. Who’s next in line?
Political correctness far too often defies logic and common sense. Feelings and desires are now equated with rights. The purpose of the military is clearly defined and social experimentation is not part of that definition. By the same token no one has the right to be a nuclear physicist, play in the NFL, or be a brain surgeon. The Declaration of Independence states that we have the right to pursue happiness which differs from the right of happiness. While strongly believing in individual liberty we also need to be realistic. Physical or mental limitations may make our goals unreachable. C’est la vie.
Why do we have to twist ourselves into pretzels to keep from being called some form of bigot? Now where is the lobby for body integrity identity disorder?
This isn’t about “The Right to Serve.” This is about reasonable and unreasonable discrimination. It is reasonable for the military to discriminate based on medical and or mental health conditions. What is unreasonable is to discriminate based on preconceived ideas without understanding the true facts. Perhaps I misunderstood, not having served in the military, but the information from the link you provided contained a list of 5 rather common sense reasons for having medical standards for enlistment.
1. Being trans is not contagious.
2. Being trans does not require or necessitate time off for treatment.
3. Being trans doesn’t render one incapable of completing training.
4. Being trans does not prevent geographical adaptability.
5. Being trans does not cause one to be medically incapable of performing their duties nor will those duties aggravate the existence of being transgendered.
I would like to add that receiving treatment, whether surgical or hormonal, for transition can be stopped, started, paused or continued without medical aggravation, so serving in a forward location without access to medical facilities is not going to limit the range of duties a trans person can perform.
You seemed to be mostly concerned with tax payers footing the bill for treatment. While that is a valid concern, it is no different than footing the bill for fertility treatment or erectile dysfunction.
Thank you, Vivian, for stating what I wanted to say to support the human beings who are transgender and want to serve their country. Many of the transgender service people I have seen interviewed did pay for their own treatment and did not take time from their service obligations to receive treatment. One such person I know is the son/daughter of an old friend of mine, who from an early age had issues with gender identity. She continues to serve because she cares very much about her country and would gladly give her life to defend our freedom. If President Trump had based his demand on facts like Mr. Taylor cites as to cost and the study that is still underway, I might be convinced of his position. But Trump’s decision is based solely on political expedience as he struggles to retain his base of support among some closed-minded Americans who need to be enlightened. Perhaps Mr. Taylor will include a transgender character in one of his books so we can see what heroes and heroines they are in our military. And I also wanted to say that mental health issues have long plagued our service people. From the alcohol used by World War II vets to the drugs used by Vietnam returnees to the suicide among more recent veterans of combat zones, mental health services for all those in the military need to be the best available. We send them to do things the rest of us are not able to do. (I’m 65.) And we owe them a chance for a good and happy life when they return home. If that means my taxes or Donald Trump’s go up, so be it.
If they can serve,.. Y cant I, having a record???
Dear Mr. Taylor,
Thank you so much for expressing your opinion in an intelligent manner. I am an “Army Brat” whose wonderful father served two tours of duty in Vietnam, first in the Marines and then a few years later as a helicopter pilot in the Army. (The stories he could tell you now that they have been declassified!) He retired at Ft. Hood and immediately served 30 additional years as a military consultant. I am a 57 year old woman who has five kids and several unofficial kids who found their way to me in moments of crisis. One of those was a sweet teenager we found was sneaking into our church to sleep on the kitchen floor at night, who we then took in to live with us. This dear soul had gender dysphoria. She has taken her transition to her desired level without any dysfunctional emotional or health issues. She is now a successful trans woman.
I tell you this because I can and have seen the issue from both sides. I knew I was not homophobic or transphobic. I did however realize during her transition that I did have some cultural bias, (for lack of a better term) that was mostly there from a little benign ignorance. I assumed that mental/psychological issues were always going to be an issue. I found that they actually are somewhat separate issue based on a person’s interactions with their society. It is more about the trauma of bullying and shame that tends to cause psychological issues. In learning more about the issues and potential problems concerning gender dysphoria I found that children raised in a nonjudgmental environment, where they are accepted in their society surrounding their gender issues, psychological problems are greatly diminished.
I understand a substantial problem you have is the medical expenses involved in a trans person serving. In this aspect, I believe that having gender dysphoria or being transgender is in more ways similar to people who have a correctable physical issue that they are not happy with and that in many situations could cause them to be bullied and or not accepted to the level they desire. Having gender dysphoria and or being transgender is actually in some ways closer to a person with severe acne who wants clearer skin or a person with crooked teeth who wishes to have them straightened and then to maintain those corrections. Dental and dermatological issues are not a basis for exclusion from the military and can have significant expenses that the service takes care of, not only for the servicemen, but also for their dependants.
Thank you thank you thank you Skylar Thompson 55 Transformer
You points are well written. I am disappointed in the opposing views but I understand many DO NOT have military experience so it is an opinion based on feelings or perceptions. I served 30 yrs and 3 days…..men or women should be allowed to enter the military if they qualify….transgenders are transitioning and the military budget and taxpayers should not bear that burden not to mention….they are not combat ready if they have not fully transitioned and requalified for military service. Federal funds should NEVER be expected to pay for these procedures. Keep sharing your views!
The current pattern of warfighting resembles the Indian Wars in the plain states. Patrol bases (forts) from which periodically the troops go forth to find and engage hostiles. If we ever go to war again with a peer or near-peer (Russia, or China) it would again resemble WW1 or 2. Troops living on the line for weeks if not months. Any physical issue is going to become bad to horrible if your medical support is reduced to what a medic or corpsman has on his back.