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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Anonymous

Thank you for your service!

Anonymous

This issue is being exploited and slanted by media (which includes, sad to say, the ACLU) to darken opinion of our President and this administration.
Whether you agree with the President or not, his anti-establishment stances are refreshing in this dangerous age of media-dictated foreign and domestic policies we've found ourselves in.

Anonymous

Transgender troops are bad for moral in the US. Let Canada, the UK and other godless countries do it if they want. We are not interested in being that far left. It's enough we have to tolerate gay marriage.

Anonymous

The attitude by homophobes towards transgenders is whats bad for moral in the U.S. You don't speak for the entire human race so saying that "we" are not interested in being that far left is extremly wrong because I am and there are plenty of other people who are as well. also, saying you have to tolerate gay marriage is like saying gays have to tolerate straight marriage in other words, its absurd, no one is forcing you to go to a gay marriage so please get of your homophobic high horse and get with the times because people are like you anymore, a good amount o people these day stand with LGBTQ+ and against bigots.

Norma

We beg you all in service to have patience, I imagine how difficult this trying times are, we are on the other end also going through our own hardship putting up with a radical ignorant president whose only motivation and purpose is to erase Obama's advancement towards a more equal and fair America for all.
You are on our thoughts everyday and you can count on us as we count on you, thank you for your service.
Together we can get this country back on track.

Anonymous

The core tenent of the military is to kill or otherwise subdue the enemy. Its a military, ya know? They that's why they have all the weapons, and tanks, and warships, and explosives (KABOOM! wouldn't the Pankhursts have loved to get their hands on some of our stuff! BWAHAHA!) and other dangerous things.

Tanveer

My first reaction is to err on the side of benevolence of spirit when in doubt. This is particularly true when dealing with people who have traditionally been maligned or marginalized. Having said that, I need an education. Can someone please explain to me whether, as argued by conservatives, women are expected/forced to share showers with trans-women (I apologize if that's not the proper description, I'm ignorant)? First, is that true? Second, if it is, I think people that see that as wrong have a point ... I think. What am I missing?

Tanveer

Upon contemplating the question I posed above, it seems to me that trans-people can be accommodated by providing them with separate facilities (showers/berthing). Perhaps, setting aside a shower or two and letting it be known that it serves out trans-brothers and sisters so anyone that has a problem sharing shower facilities, say, can use other facilities. Would that be fair? Seems like a big improvement relative to a ban ... but does it still leave us in a place where we are acting unfairly/immorally?

Carlos

>>I am a combat veteran. When you are eating dirt and there's metal in the air I don't care who or what is protecting me.
>>If people meet the standards in place why bar them from serving their country?
>>Do you think that someone just wakes up one day and decides to be trans. It must be a very hard life especially when you have a buffoon of a "president" trying to score political points off you
>> Fight the enemy not your own people, Drumpf.
>> Why don't you negatives serve and then add your 5 cents worth?

Anonymous

Thank you for your service!

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