Harming Our Troops

By |2017-08-31T09:00:00-04:00August 31st, 2017|Opinions, Viewpoints|

BY JAY KAPLAN

On Monday morning, Aug. 28, the ACLU filed a lawsuit in the federal district court of
Maryland challenging the constitutionality of the Trump Administration’s transgender service member ban. The 39-page lawsuit states that the ban violates both Equal Protection and Due Process guarantees under the U.S. Constitution, because it singles out transgender people for unequal and discriminatory treatment. On that same day, Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund, along with Outserve Service Members Legal Defense Network (SLN) also filed a legal challenge. (Note: Gay and Lesbian Advocates and Defenders (GLAD) and National Center for Lesbian Rights had filed a legal challenge to Trump’s proposed ban on twitter [July 26]prior to the White House issuing guidance on Aug. 25.
Despite promises to the contrary during the 2016 Presidential Election campaign, the Trump Administration has been anything but friendly to the LGBT community, as evident in the Department of Justice’s rescission of guideline protecting transgender students from discrimination in school regarding bathrooms, the Administration’s support of policies and practices that would allow discrimination against LGBT in the name of religion, the appointment of Neil Gorsuch to the U.S. Supreme Court, whose previous legal opinions indicate an antipathy towards LGBT relationships, and now this.
While we can be outraged, appalled and feel disheartened by this most blatant attack upon the transgender community, t one that clearly harms and disrespects the thousands of patriotic transgender military personnel who have put their lives on the line for the safety and security of our country, it is also very important that we speak out against this policy- to our friends, to our family members, to our colleagues who assured us that we had nothing to fear from this presidential administration. And the best way to do this is to by making sure we are well informed about the facts.
– The guidance from Trump Administration (that impacts thousand of peoples’ lives and the security of our country) has been boiled down to a 2.5-page memo that directs Defense Secretary to come up a with a policy to determine the fitness of currently serving transgender service members, based on their “deployability” (can they serve in a war zone and engage in military exercises or function on a ship for months?). The directive also halts any payments for transgender related medical treatment and bars any recruitment or new enlistment of transgender service members.
– The Washington Blade reports that an anonymous White House senior official said that Vice President Pence is the “driving force” behind the ban at the behest of such conservative groups as the Family Research Council.
– Despite Trump’s twitter claim that he had consulted with general and military experts on the ban, that turned out not to be the case.
– The transgender military ban was removed by the Obama Administration in 2016, following a study done by the RAND Corporation (a non-partisan organization), which found that there
would be a “minimal” readiness impact by allowing transgender service members to serve
openly. Furthermore, RAND concluded that the health care costs regarding transition medical services to transgender service members would be “extremely small” between $2.4 million and 8.4 million a year – far less than the amount the military pays for Viagra for servicemen, and less than the costs so far for security detail for President Trump’s trips to Mar-a-Lago.
– In short, every justification that the president has offered in support of the ban has been thoroughly reviewed and debunked by the Department of Defense itself when it adopted a policy permitting military service by transgender individuals last year.
– As a result of the lifting of the transgender military ban there are approximately 5,000-10,000 transgender service members, many who are now serving openly, who could lose their jobs.
– Involuntary removal of transgender service members could not only upend current military
operations, but also affects the individual transgender service member’s livelihood, pension, and well as access to health care, despite his/her/their service to the U.S. The damage to service members and all trans people who worry for their financial well-being, safety, and dignity cannot be undone by a policy that says “you and your lives are not valuable.”
– 18 foreign countries permit transgender persons to serve openly in the military. The RAND report focused on four countries- Australia, Canada, Israel, and the United Kingdom and found that none of these countries’ militaries reported a negative impact on military cohesion nor readiness to serve.
– Close to 60 retired generals from various military branches have issues a statement against the transgender ban, warning that it would degrade military readiness and cause serious disruption in the armed forces.
– Members of Congress, including Republican Senators John McCain, Orrin Hatch (who both
opposed repealing the ban on gays in the military in 2010) have spoken out against the ban.
Once again, we rely upon our system of checks and balances and hope the judiciary will recognize this policy for what it is- discriminatory, heartless, reckless, cynically political and unconstitutional. And to quote a reconnaissance platoon leader, who is currently deployed to Afghanistan regarding Trump’s initial tweets:
“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.”

About the Author:

BTL Staff
Between The Lines has been publishing LGBTQ-related content in Southeast Michigan since the early '90s. This year marks the publication's 27th anniversary.