Trump Wants Trans Troops Kicked Out Of The Military (Or Back Into The Closet)
In spite of pleas from actual military personnel, and in spite of the fact that courts have just found that transgender people are protected against employment discrimination under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act -- Donald Trump has issued a memorandum renewing his efforts to kick trans people out of the military.
The memorandum states:
Among other things, the policies set forth by the Secretary of Defense state that transgender persons with a history or diagnosis of gender dysphoria -- individuals who the policies state may require substantial medical treatment, including medications and surgery -- are disqualified from military service except under certain limited circumstances.
Someone who is a little more jaded than I might see this as an effort to win back the affections of disgruntled Deplorables after signing the Omnibus bill and pledging to ban bump stocks. Give them a little boost to their self-esteem by letting them have a group of people they can see being legally discriminated against.
Since August of last year, when Trump issued his first memorandum on the subject, top military personnel have attempted to talk him out of it. This includes the vast majority of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
After the memorandum was issued, the Trump White House issued a statement in which they tried to fool us all into believing that they are not bigots, just that they are very concerned about "military readiness.
But in a subsequent statement, the White House press office on Friday explained that the policy was “developed through extensive study by senior uniformed and civilian leaders, including combat veterans.”
“The experts’ study sets forth a policy to enhance our military’s readiness, lethality, and effectiveness,” it continued, adding that officials “concluded that the accession or retention of individuals with a history or diagnosis of gender dysphoria — those who may require substantial medical treatment, including through medical drugs or surgery — presents considerable risk to military effectiveness and lethality.”
Yeah, except the thing with this is -- you are only going to know if someone is transgender if they come out of the closet. So this isn't even a ban on trans people so much as it is a ban on people who have come out as trans. This isn't going to increase military readiness, it's simply going to cause people to have to make a choice between serving their country and holding onto their career and pretending to be a gender they're not.
This is hardly the first time "BUT MILITARY READINESS!" has been used as an excuse to discriminate. In a 1940 statement, President Franklin Roosevelt said:
"At this time and this time only, we dare not confuse the issue of prompt preparedness with a new social experiment however important and desirable it may be."
That "social experiment?" Desegregation.
Yet, as former Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta, who also opposed the measure, explained, the military has managed to figure these "social experiments" out:
“We went through that with ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,’” he said of the decision in 2011 to allow gays to serve openly. “We worked through it with issues of race. We worked through it with women. We have always found a way. And in the end people have been able to serve their country and that is what counts.”
We've seen this movie before, and it has yet to end well for these Conservative Wile E. Coyotes. Except the thing is -- in this remake, trans people have already been in the damn military all along and rather than just not being admitted, are being kicked out. They've already figured out how to work it through -- by treating transgender people like individuals rather than a monolith, and evaluating their ability to serve the same way they evaluate anyone else's ability to serve. Ta-da!
Robyn Pennacchia is a brilliant, fabulously talented and visually stunning angel of a human being, who shrugged off what she is pretty sure would have been a Tony Award-winning career in musical theater in order to write about stuff on the internet. Previously, she was a Senior Staff Writer at Death & Taxes, and Assistant Editor at The Frisky (RIP). Currently, she writes for Wonkette, Friendly Atheist, Quartz and other sites. Follow her on Twitter at @RobynElyse