President Trump’s Transgender Military Ban Is an Affront to the Core Tenets of the US Military

This morning, on the 69th anniversary of President Harry Truman desegregating the military, President Donald Trump announced via a series of three tweets that the United States will no longer allow transgender Americans to serve in the military.

As a reconnaissance platoon leader in the 82nd Airborne and executive officer in Army Special Operations Command (USASOC) who has deployed to Afghanistan, I can say with confidence that this reversal of policy is not only cruel and immoral — it’s also a violation of American values with no basis in facts.

One of the core aspects of the military is its openness to those who want to serve in something greater than themselves. It is a path offered to those wishing, and
willing, to act on their patriotism. To discourage or bar those who meet the physical and academic standards from having that choice is imprudent.

History has proven time and time again that restrictions against certain groups joining the military, such as African-Americans or Japanese-Americans, are self-defeating. The results of lifting these arbitrary restrictions have always been the same. The reasons given for the restrictions never came to fruition, were based on fear and prejudice, and the military was ultimately stronger based on a swell of new applicants and diversity in its ranks.

I served in the military while “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” (DADT) was still the law of the land. The effects were brutal. Because the Army institutionally discriminated against gay, lesbian, and bisexual Americans, a message was sent that homophobia and biphobia were acceptable. Young soldiers coming in were exposed to this, and internalized oppression was validated and perpetuated. And who could blame them as they looked up to leadership and the governing rules to learn how to properly conduct themselves. Repealing DADT started to erode that phenomenon, helping to create an atmosphere of acceptance for gay, lesbian, and bisexual service members in the military.

Another reason to reject Trump’s transgender military ban is that it is antithetical to the core tenets of the military’s esprit de corps.

In my unit in the 82nd Airborne, the brigade and troop commander were both Black, as many as a quarter of the enlisted soldiers were Latino, and the general population of my troop was ethnically and religiously diverse.

I actually had to sit and think long and hard to remember the racial, ethnic, and religious makeup of my brigade. That’s because when the pressure is on, you don’t care about the race, religion, sexual orientation, or gender identity of the soldier next to you. That’s one aspect I loved deeply about the military. That is what makes the military strong. Banning a group from joining it damages that dynamic.

According to a White House official, Trump’s ban on transgender Americans serving in the military is a political ploy to help Republicans win seats in Congress. But transgender people are not political puppets whose lives are to be played with. (Full disclosure: my brother, Chase, is trans and a lawyer with the ACLU.) This ban affects real people. Over 15,000 transgender Americans currently serve in the military.

But now, their livelihoods are at stake. And young Americans who want to bravely serve their country are being told that they aren’t deserving of that right simply because of who they are — people like my brother. This only contributes to the existing stigma that drives
nearly half of transgender youth to attempt suicide.

This is not about politics. This is not about military readiness or cost. This is a calculated decision to discriminate against an already vulnerable group of people, one that will have devastating effects for countless Americans.

As a veteran, as a human being, as the uncle to my transgender brother’s child, I won’t accept this. We can do better. I learned as much through my service.

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Eric Taylor

First and most important, the men, women, gay, lesbian, or transgender of the military who defend our country with honor deserve our support and appreciation. Several years ago, a well done documentary on transgender preschoolers powerfully made a compelling case on this confusing, and long hidden in the personal medical records, aspect of human sexuality. I understand why some have a hard time understanding. That being said, I thought our country was by now mostly informed and compassionate on this very important, serious condition. The seriousness is because untreated there is real pain, and treatment is expensive. Not only do these people deserve exactly the same respect as anyone, they also deserve to have this condition covered by medical insurance. If it means my premiums go up a percent, it is the right thing to do.

Anonymous

What about age discrimination? I would like to be in the military but because I'm over 35 I can't join.. how is that fair either?

Anonymous

Your post highlights the problem with suppressing speech. You thought that people agreed with you but that was only because people with opposing viewpoints were afraid to speak - probably due to the liberal attempts to get people fired and otherwise destroy them using social media for voicing non-liberal views.

Anonymous

military members can't speak out against gays or trannys. it has been shoved down their throat and they have to accept. and for this moron who wrote this piece, being gay or a tranny is not the same as being black. get a grip

Anonymous

Let me ask some impolite, inconvenient questions: If a person with a penis tells his recruiter he identifies as a woman, whom does he do basic training with? Men or women? How do they arrange the physical accomodations, bunks, group showers?I have no faith that Trump thought the issues out seriously- and if the generals think allowing trans into service won't destroy cohesion or morale, I tend to side with them; but I still want to know that ALL soldier's rights are respected

Anonymous

I get tired of this carp. I don't like watching my country go down the toilet,but here it goes. As a child I was assaulted by people who thought he could show me a new life and tried over and over again I had nobody to protect me no one to stand with me and it was always the homosexuals who are assaulting me. I cannot stand to sit by and watch this nation go down tubes I have seen too much in my life maybe would have been good if I had died years ago so I wouldn't have to see this now I see it in fact family members the way it has I do not support homosexuality lesbianism transgender or anything of course y'all will call me a homophobe but you forget one thing in your identifying it as a phobia means of fear of something I don't fear anything because of my assault is a child I become very bitter about certain things and characteristics of human beings I have no sympathy for them I have no care for them I wish you leave me in mind so long but that's just my wish y'all have a right to live your life the way you wish you should always strive to do what you wish but you should not force your lifestyle and your life upon me. It sickens me to see this going on I don't care what you like I can turn a blind eye to you I can walk past you as you is if you didn't exist I don't think there's anything in this world that I would like to see more than all this debate and stuff to stop your happy when Obama did y'all such a great favor so now you have Trump and you're not happy with that that's too bad I wasn't happy with Obama and I live through it for 8 years and wasn't happy with Clinton and I live that through that for 8 years and with disproportionate happy with bush I don't know what's going on in this country I really don't care anymore all I want to do is go in my little part of this world sit down and enjoy myself. None of y'all messing with me and my family and my family members who support y'all have been told the same thing I don't care what people found I just want y'all to leave me alone and if this country Burns and crash and goes to hell in a handbasket enjoy the things you did to contribute to it because it's coming real fast now I hope you're proud of yourself bye.

Anonymous

There are a lot of people who sympathize with you but rape and molestation victims have trouble speaking up at the best of times and have been attacked for speaking up about this subject so are afraid to speak. I was molested as a child, too, and have PTSD. I have no problems with homosexuals but the thought of having a biological male in the restroom or locker room with me makes me physically ill. It actually wasn't bad years ago before transgenders started forcing their views on everyone, in fact I new a few and could actually go into public restrooms with them, but now that they (as in the activists) are being so mean and demanding and pushy its just too much. Also, its also men that look a lot more like men now.

Anonymous

Oh dear. For those who have difficulty using the internet, here is an article that explains why medical treatment is necessary and the involved process of getting approved. And seriously using the word "tranny" just makes ya look like my great granny. https://www.stripes.com/news/pentagon-to-pay-for-medically-necessary-sex...

Anonymous

People who don't or have not served in the military do not have the right to have an opinion on this matter. Gays fought for the longest time for non gay individuals to stop telling them what they can and cannot do. Well, same for the military. If you don't serve, you don't get to tell us how we serve. People often forget that military service is not a right. It's a privilage. If you want to state an opinion on the topic, go join the ranks and learn the dynamic first. Oh, and the guy that wrote this article should show restraint before slandering military officers and decisions openly. I could only imagine how he would have handled the same from his soldiers during his service.

Jarredk

Citizens certainly have a Right to weigh in and direct policy. That is one of the very things those in the armed forces fight to achieve. That's what it means to be an American. If you don't like that environment, I could suggest far less tolerant countries in which to live that would be better suited for your closemindedness. I'm sure you would prefer the masses to say thank you, and be on their way, but you're not general jessep and "I don't give a d--- what you think you're entitled to," lol!

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