• Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Subscribe
  • RSS

No, General Mattis Is Not Defying Trump On The Transgender Military Ban

Trump Transgender Military Ban

Several media outlets have been touting an announcement made yesterday by Secretary of Defense James Mattis regarding President Trump’s order to ban transgender troops from the military:

WASHINGTON — Defense Secretary Jim Mattis kicked President Trump’s proposed ban on transgender people serving in the military down the road, announcing that transgender service members will continue to be allowed to serve pending the results of a study.

In a statement on Tuesday evening, Mr. Mattis said that he was establishing a panel of experts, serving within the Pentagon and the Homeland Security Department, whose task will be to “provide advice and recommendations on the implementation of the president’s direction.”

Mr. Trump announced last month in an abrupt series of tweets that transgender people would no longer be allowed to serve in the military. The Twitter messages took the Pentagon by surprise, and since then, Defense Department officials have been trying to cobble together a policy that takes into account their desire to allow currently serving transgender people to remain, while at the same time following the dictates of a commander in chief who, by most accounts, had not put a lot of study into the ramifications of his instructions.

Last week, Mr. Trump signed the directive precluding transgender individuals from serving, but gave Mr. Mattis wide discretion in determining whether those already in the armed forces can continue to serve. By putting the onus on Mr. Mattis, the president appeared to open the door to allowing at least some transgender service members to remain in the military, contrary to his initial tweet that all would be disallowed.

Mr. Mattis’s statement on Tuesday appeared to open that door further.

“Once the panel reports its recommendations and following my consultation with the secretary of homeland security, I will provide my advice to the president concerning implementation of his policy direction,” Mr. Mattis said in his statement. “In the interim, current policy with respect to currently serving members will remain in place.” He said he will issue “interim guidance to the force concerning the president’s direction, including any necessary interim adjustments to procedures, to ensure the continued combat readiness of the force until our final policy on this subject is issued.”

Mr. Mattis’s announcement came as more than 140 House Democrats sent a letter to Mr. Trump calling on him to reconsider his transgender ban. The letter, released Tuesday, argued that the military should not discriminate, and said that enforcing the ban could lead to the loss of jobs for active-duty service members who have served honorably.

“Implicitly, your ban denies the value of transgender service members, and it questions the professionalism of those who serve beside them. Our Armed Forces have grown more equal and more inclusive over time, often in the face of strident opposition,” the letter said. “In 1948, when President Truman moved to racially integrate the military, voices were raised in protest. They were raised again in 2010, when Congress at last repealed ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.’ At every turn, those voices have been proven wrong.”

If you were to judge from the headlines, Mattis was essentially defying the President and acting to protect transgender members of the military who acted in reliance on the change in policy announced by President Obama and revealed to their commanding officers and fellow soldiers and sailors that they were transgendered. The New York Times article quoted above, for example, bears the headline “Mattis Says Panel Will Study Transgender Ban.“ The Hill‘s headline states “Mattis: Transgender troops can keep serving pending study.” In The Washington Post the headline reads “Transgender ban frozen as Mattis moves forward with new review of options,” while Fox News went with “Mattis freezes Trump ban on transgender troops pending review.”  Even the usually restrained NPR goes with the exaggerated headline of “Mattis Puts Hold On Transgender Ban For Current Military Service Members.” In reality, what Mattis did hear was far less than meet the eye, and likely only temporary.

Slate’s Mark Joseph Stern, though, points out that much of the media reporting on what Mattis did here got the matter entirely wrong:

Shannon Minter, legal director for the National Center of Lesbian Rights—which filed a lawsuit to block the policy—told me that USA Today’s “inaccurate reporting” is “playing into a patently bogus strategy to make it appear that there is going to be some new ‘study’ that will legitimize what is already a forgone conclusion: the discriminatory banning of military service by transgender people, based on a characteristic that has no bearing on their fitness to serve.” The Friday memo, Minter noted, “is perfectly clear: Trump has ordered the military to ban transgender people from serving. That ban will go into effect on March 23.”

Trump’s decision, Minter continued, “is not based on any hastily assembled, post hoc ‘study’ that is being cooked up now in a transparent effort to provide a retroactive fig leaf for the president’s bigotry. The military spent two years carefully reviewing all of the relevant evidence on this issue and concluded that there is no reason to exclude transgender people from military service. The cost of inclusion is literally negligible, and there is no evidence that permitting open service will have any negative impact on military readiness. The notion that there is any good faith ‘study’ being conducted is a blatant pretext for discrimination.”

Chase Strangio, an ACLU attorney who co-authored that group’s lawsuit against the ban, agrees. “Though Defense Secretary Mattis appears rightly troubled by the president’s action, his statements do not change the directive nor has he been given the power to retain transgender service members indefinitely.”

The Washington Post’s Aaron Blake pours further cold water on the idea that Mattis is defying Trump here:

What Mattis did Tuesday night, it turns out, was what Trump had called on him to do in a directive issued Friday: Study how to implement the ban — specifically when it comes to existing transgender service members — and get back to the White House with recommendations by early next year before the ban is implemented. This was presented as Mattis “freezing” the transgender ban, when in fact it was already frozen. And it was frozen because Trump himself froze it on Friday.

That said, the directive itself and the need to delay implementation of the ban for six months show how haphazard this whole process has been. Trump tweeted more than a month ago that the government would not “accept or allow transgender individuals to serve in any capacity in the U.S. military.” The actual policy is looking far more fungible than that hard-and-fast statement made in several out-of-nowhere tweets. Trump clearly jumped the gun, and now reality is setting in.

(…)

Mattis’s announcement on Tuesday night is wholly consistent with [the directive issued by President Trump last Friday.] He did not go rogue here. “Once the panel reports its recommendations and following my consultation with the secretary of Homeland Security, I will provide my advice to the president concerning implementation of his policy direction,” Mattis said in the statement Tuesday night. ”In the interim, current policy with respect to currently serving members will remain in place.”

Stern and Blake have the matter exactly right, and the media reporting on this announcement has been exceedingly exaggerated with regard to what it all means. As I noted in the post I wrote when Trump announced the ban late last Friday, the directive that Trump signed does give Mattis and the Defense Department discretion regarding how to implement the President’s order. Most particularly, the order does not specifically direct the Pentagon to dismiss anyone who has come forward to as transgendered in reliance on the change in policy that President Obama announced last year. In theory, the Pentagon could decide that those people will be permitted to continue serving notwithstanding the President’s order, or they could announce that they will be dismissed from the service in some manner. Additionally, the President’s directive does not specifically say what should be done with regard to those soldiers and sailors whose transgender status is uncovered or revealed notwithstanding their efforts to keep it secret. However, if the President disagrees with how Mattis uses the discretion that has been given him on this issue he could issue a supplementary order providing that such people will have to be dismissed from the military in some manner. Additionally, there is very little that Mattis or any of the member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff can do with regard to those provisions of the order that bar anyone who is transgendered from enlisting in the military or from discharging anyone who comes forward as transgendered once the new order is fully in effect. It’s also worth noting that by its own terms, the President’s order does not go into effect until some time next year, so any talk of a “freeze” betrays a fundamental misunderstanding of what Mattis said yesterday.

As I’ve noted before, there is no real factual basis to support the President’s ban on service by openly transgender soldier and sailors. Every study that has been done on the issue has shown that there would be no real impact on military readiness or effectiveness in such a case. Additionally, the experience of those nations where open service by a transgender individual is permitted, a list that includes many of the closest allies of the United States both in and outside of NATO, indicates that there would be no deleterious effect if the United States were to allow it as well. Finally, our own experience with lifting the Don’t Ask Don’t Tell policy regarding open service by gay and lesbian service members, as well as the experience of implementing President Truman’s historic order more than six decades ago to end segregation in the military, shows quite well that the U.S. military can adjust to these changes and continue to be the most powerful military force in the world.

That, however, is not relevant to the issue presently before us. The President has issued his directive and the military must carry it out. Not only is Mattis not defying that order, it would entirely inappropriate and wrong for him to do so and Trump would be entirely correct if he decided to fire Mattis for taking such an action. For better or worse, the President is Commander in Chief of the military, and his directives must be obeyed except if they are clearly illegal under existing law, and even then the circumstances under which a Presidential order could be legitimately disobeyed are limited. The only circumstances that could change that would be a favorable court ruling for the Plaintiffs in the lawsuits filed against the policy both earlier this week and earlier this month or the election of a new President who would reverse Trump’s decision. Unless and until that happens, the policy will be put into effect notwithstanding the fact that it is both unwise and unnecessary.

Related Posts:

About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May, 2010 and also writes at Below The Beltway. Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. Daryl's other brother Darryl says:

    As I’ve noted before, there is no real factual basis to support the President’s ban on service by openly transgender soldier and sailors.

    Made that sentence more better for you.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 4

  2. Reality Bites says:

    So basically, these lawsuits by transgender service members are unripe, in whole or in part. The Supreme Court requires ripeness and standing for a lawsuit to succeed (even liberal justices — see Ruth Bader Ginsburg in the Arizonans for Official English case, for example). That is absent here.

    If an admitted student lacks standing to challenge discrimination against applicants for future admission, a transgender soldier lacks standing to challenge bans on the recruitment of other transgender applicants. (See DeFunis v. Odegaard, 416 U.S. 312 (1974)).

    Doug says that “there is no real factual basis to support the President’s ban on service by openly transgender soldier and sailors.” But even if that is so, that doesn’t make it unconstitutional. The military bans applicants all the time based on criteria that no study has ever proven interferes with the ability to serve, such as having a head tattoo, which at least one branch of the military bans.

    The military gets deference as to such decisions. It doesn’t have to show a factual basis. See Goldman v. Weinberger, 475 U.S. 503 (1986) (upholding ban on wearing of religious caps, even though they are protected in civilian workplaces by the Civil Rights Act); Rostker v. Goldberg, 453 U.S. 57 (1981) (upholding the male-only draft); Brown v. Glines, 444 U.S. 348 (1980) (upholding restrictions on expression on military bases even though such expression causes no problem in civilian life); Thomasson v. Perry, 80 F.3d 915 (4th Cir. 1996) (upholding the ban on gays in the military that once existed).

    The military is just different.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 7

  3. @Reality Bites:

    As I said in my posts regarding the lawsuits, I do not think the claims are premature and more than the lawsuits brought against Trump’s Muslim ban that were brought before the order actually went into effect were premature.

    And, yes, it is true that Courts often give the Executive deference on military issues, that deference is not universal and does not mean that the President can order the Pentagon to do things not authorized by the Constitution or act in a way detrimental to the rights of members of the military.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 3

  4. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @Reality Bites:

    Lol, enter the single issue troll.

    Tell me, which armchair lawyer did you rip this masterpiece of bullshit off from?

    You’ve posted this same tripe under what, three or four different user names now? Give it up and stop with the bad wigs, J E N O S. Know when you’re unwelcome.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 4

  5. Bob The Arqubusier says:

    As I’ve noted before, there is no real factual basis to support the President’s ban on service by openly transgender soldier and sailors. Every study that has been done on the issue has shown that there would be no real impact on military readiness or effectiveness in such a case.

    Do any of those studies address the concerns I’ve read about in several other places, and have concatenated and summarized here?

    1) Many people state that about 45% transgendered individuals between the ages of 18 and 24 have attempted suicide. Does it make a great deal of sense to admit them into a high-stress life (far more than a “job”) AND provide them with exceptionally powerful weapons?

    2) The best estimates I’ve seen say that gender reassignment treatment (surgery and recovery) takes about 8 months. During that time, the service member would, obviously, not be available for service. Would that time count towards their enlistment commitment, or would they still “owe” that eight months upon recovery?

    3) Post-surgical transgendered individuals need ongoing medication and treatment. That would be very difficult to provide in many military environments, meaning that they could not be deployed for many missions.

    4) Should a transgendered individual fail to serve their full commitment to the service, would they then be liable for the expense of their transgender treatment? I know that is the principle for graduates of the military academies who fail to fulfill their service requirements — they have to repay the costs of their education.

    I can’t seem to find those answers. The closest I can find is people just saying vague things like “Every study that has been done on the issue has shown that there would be no real impact on military readiness or effectiveness.”

    I’m quite certain that the standard trend of study authors quite frequently coming up with the answers that those paying for said study would prefer to hear would not apply in this case…

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 10

  6. Bob The Arqubusier says:

    @HarvardLaw92: You got a real fixation going on there, chum. Might wanna talk to someone about it. Maybe a Harvard-educated mental health professional or the like.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 9

  7. P says:

    @Bob The Arqubusier:

    The best estimates I’ve seen say that gender reassignment treatment (surgery and recovery) takes about 8 months.

    Try three months, less if you’re in better physical shape.

    Once again, all of your “concerns” were of little consequence to the militaries of our allies. You’ll have to explain why all of these concerns are of great import to us, but insignificant to the Israeli military.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 3

  8. James Pearce says:

    @Bob The Arqubusier: 1) They commit suicide because rather than being allowed to live full happyish lives, they are discriminated against politically and generally treated poorly.

    2) In a trans-friendly word,”gender reassignment treatment” need not include surgery. I see no problems banning gender reassignment surgery while allowing transgender individuals and gender reassignment treatment, which again, doesn’t need to have a surgical component.

    3) Post-surgical anyone needs ongoing medication and treatment. It is not difficult to provide soldiers. We have entire institutions devoted to the task.

    4) If a transgendered individual should wash out of their commitment, they should receive the same penalty all other recruits receive. If that includes reimbursing medical costs, sure. If not, no.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 3

  9. Me says:

    @Doug Mataconis:

    Reality Bites is correct. The transgender ban is constitutional.

    Your statement is misleading, because what is deemed unconstitutional in the civilian world is in fact often deemed perfectly constitutional in the military setting. Thus, most federal appeals courts upheld the ban on gays in the military, even though no study proved that ban was necessary (and gay people make perfectly good soldiers). Similarly, the Feres doctrine bars lawsuits by military members seeking damages over even patent constitutional violations, even when civilian government employees could sue over the very same conduct.

    Moreover, on the merits, the ban on transgender troops substantially advances important state interests, and is thus constitutional even under the standards applicable to civilian employment, for the reasons given by Bob the Arqubusier above; by columnist (and veteran) Robin Beres of the Richmond Times-Dispatch; and by a lawyer at this link:

    http://libertyunyielding.com/2017/08/28/strange-aclu-lawsuit-challenges-trump-ban-new-transgender-troops

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 10

  10. James Pearce says:

    @Me:

    the ban on transgender troops substantially advances important state interests

    No, it advances the interests of a bunch of penny-pinching ninnies that have other things on their mind besides fielding the world’s best fighting force.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 3

  11. Me says:

    @James Pearce:

    The transgender ban is constitutional. Saving money is recognized by courts as a legitimate government interest that can uphold a challenged policy against an equal-protection challenge under rational basis review — not merely the desire of “penny-pinching ninnies.”

    Excluding transgender applicants is perfectly rational, and will save taxpayers money. As Stars and Stripes reported in September 2016, “The Pentagon expects to pay between $40,000 to $50,000 during the course of a service member’s life to treat gender dysphoria.”

    It also promotes the compelling government interest of military effectiveness, which justifies even otherwise “discriminatory” military rules, for the reasons given by military veteran and newspaper columnist Robin Beres at this link:

    http://www.richmond.com/opinion/our-opinion/robin-beres/robin-beres-jim-mattis-is-right-to-hit-pause-on/article_148d1187-868a-5c28-b2d1-3b8fdebed95d.html

    As she points out, inclusion of “transgender” troops raises serious privacy issues that threaten unit cohesion:

    “An Army transgender training module … describes a potential scenario for a soldier who is undergoing a male-to-female gender-marker change (without sex reassignment surgery) and is placed in women’s barracks.

    “This new female — who still has her penis — will be using the women’s showers and bathroom facilities. The rules instruct all other female soldiers that they must be respectful of the new girl’s concerns and privacy issues. The transgender soldier, however, is neither required nor expected to modify or adjust her behavior in consideration of her new berthing mates.

    “The Army insists that dignity and respect must be shown to every service member. Yet, its bizarre demands that female-born females keep quiet — and pretend to ignore visible biology in a shower — are incredibly disrespectful to women soldiers.

    “The service is basically telling women that their humiliation and any other emotion they may experience are nothing compared with the feelings of a tiny fraction of service members.”

    Some additional valid concerns are raised in the comments of Bob the Arqubusier above.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 11

  12. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @James Pearce:

    Again, don’t feed the troll (no matter how many sockpuppet hats he’s trying to wear)

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 3

  13. Bob The Arqubusier says:

    @James Pearce: 1) They commit suicide because rather than being allowed to live full happyish lives, they are discriminated against politically and generally treated poorly.

    And the military is an ideal place for people who are exceptionally sensitive and emotionally vulnerable. ‘Cuz nothing helps those sorts than a relentless push for conformity, obedience, discipline, and performance. And, on top of that, let’s give them high-powered weapons!

    In a trans-friendly word,”gender reassignment treatment” need not include surgery. I see no problems banning gender reassignment surgery while allowing transgender individuals and gender reassignment treatment, which again, doesn’t need to have a surgical component.

    …yeah. That won’t cause confusion. And, as we’re seeing, now the move is to treat WrongThink as a criminal offense — see New York and California for The Shape Of Things To Come.

    3) Post-surgical anyone needs ongoing medication and treatment. It is not difficult to provide soldiers. We have entire institutions devoted to the task.

    This is, by any rational definition, elective surgery, as it addresses no physical condition and causes no physical risk in deferring. And this puts an unreasonable burden on those who do not feel the need for extensive, elaborate surgery that removes them from the risks associated with military service.

    It’s one thing to say “adjustments will have to be made, and will be made.” It’s quite another to explain to someone that they have to take on an disproportionate burden because someone else can’t or won’t — and you’re not allowed to complain about taking on more responsibility, or be guilty of WrongThink or a Hate Crime or whatever.

    The purpose of the military is to serve the nation’s interests. It’s not to serve the interests of its members.

    4) I don’t know the particular rules covering elective medical procedures, but I’m comfortable considering it a “benefit” much like a degree from a military academy. In either case, the service member made a commitment, the government kept its part, the member received the benefits of that, and failed to live up to their end. They have an obligation to make the government whole.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 12

  14. Bob The Arqubusier says:

    @James Pearce: No, it advances the interests of a bunch of penny-pinching ninnies that have other things on their mind besides fielding the world’s best fighting force.

    If there’s anything the government currently needs, it’s more “penny-pinching ninnies” (the federal debt is currently almost $20 billion). And the last thing “the world’s best fighting force” needs is more complications.

    The Navy has had four (FOUR) major ship accidents since January. And one of the leading current theories is that actual, practical, hands-on training in things like ship handling has been shorted in favor of social engineering on diversity and tolerance and whatnot.

    (USS John S. McCain, USS Fitzgerald, USS Lake Champlain, USS Antietam)

    Oh, and those first two ships are equipped with anti-ballistic missile systems — which would be real useful should North Korea start lobbing non-practice missiles. Too bad they’re both out of commission for the foreseeable future.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 13

  15. Just 'nutha ig'nint cracker says:

    @Bob The Arqubusier: Two nonsensical posts both competing for the most inane thing you’ve said in a long time. And so close together. I’m in awe (or is that awwww…). [click]

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 3

  16. Gustopher says:

    So, I don’t really care about transgender issues, I am even a bit squeamish about transgender issues, and I think that we are probably 5-10 years from a treatment for gender disaphoria that will target the mind rather than the body and that will confuse everything beyond recognition. But I try to be a better person than my biases.

    Reading Bob’s and probably-Bob’s impassioned defense of an all-original-gender military, I am really swayed towards allowing transgender troops. The transparency of their arguments, and the fact that it boils down to “transgender folks are icky” bothers me.

    People do all sorts of stupid sh-t, and changing their gender is pretty minor in the pantheon of dumb crap. If that’s what you have to do to survive, go for it — it’s the most effective medical treatment available. I strive to not care, and I recognize that my biases should be my problem and not theirs. Accepting one’s body seems like it makes more sense, but what do I know? And people like the Bobs make it easier to side with the transgender folk, despite my biases.

    So, thanks Bobs. Thank you for helping me be the person I want to be, rather than the person I am.

    After all, tolerance is about tolerating and respecting, not approving, endorsing or even understanding.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 13 Thumb down 2

  17. Mister Bluster says:

    @Bob The Knob:..one of the leading current theories is that actual, practical, hands-on training in things like ship handling has been shorted in favor of social engineering on diversity and tolerance and whatnot.

    If you have evidence that this is the case by all means report it to http://www.navy.mil

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  18. KM says:

    @Gustopher :

    It’s amazing how listening to one spout Grade A bullshit make you reevaluate your own arguments and logic. “My God, do *I* sound like that?” has driven many who couldn’t really articulate why they felt or thought the way they did to clarity like no other. The classic example is of course Welch’s “Have you no sense of decency?” Nobody wants to sound like the raving loon on the soap box and confuse personal bias with actual legit arguments. We like to say “justice is blind” and “democracy for all” but in truth, it never really is until we confront that which keeps us from it. Idiots like those above assist in this process greatly.

    Kudos for the realization and for sharing!! This world would be a much better place if we could all admit when we’re struggling with our ideals. It’s easy to say, it’s hard to do but what’s worth the prize is always worth the fight.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 1

  19. KM says:

    @Bob The Arqubusier :

    The Navy has had four (FOUR) major ship accidents since January. And one of the leading current theories is that actual, practical, hands-on training in things like ship handling has been shorted in favor of social engineering on diversity and tolerance and whatnot.

    And who’s dumbass theory is that? Name names.

    Honestly, you’re trying to tell me that sailors who actually know how to run ships suddenly all disappeared in Jan and greenhorns are running everything? That *everyone* involved either never had or somehow lost ship-handling skills because of sensitivity training? Crews with years of experience suddenly can’t function for some reason and there’s not a single person on shift that’s done this before who’s brain has been contaminated with whatever training happened in Jan that’s causing this. On ships with thousands of souls, somehow they are all complete novices and only the idiots who can’t drive manage to get the keys???

    Bull. Shit. Please stop insulting our fine naval officers and crew with this nonsense. To imply they are all collectively so dumb they can’t remember how to run their ship and not be complete jerks at the same time is highly rude to those who serve this nation. Stop trying to justify your little political games at the expense of their intelligence and skill.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 1

  20. James Pearce says:

    @HarvardLaw92:

    Again, don’t feed the troll

    You know that thing where we skip over addressing the bad arguments and start calling people names? That’s not what I’m doing here.

    If they want to argue costs and readiness and all the other stuff, I will. When all the bad arguments are used up, the only retreat will be bigotry.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 2

  21. DC denizen says:

    @James Pearce:

    The arguments in favor of the transgender ban — such as unit cohesion, mental health, military effectiveness, and cost — seem both compelling, and largely unrefuted. So I don’t see any basis for saying that those arguments have been “used up,” as opposed to well supported.

    But at least you are civil, unlike the ironically-named commenter “HarvardLaw92,” whose comments exemplify incivility, and who probably never attended law school at all.

    Very few arguments against the transgender ban amount to anything other than self-serving virtue-signalling. But at least you have tried, in a civil manner.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 6

  22. KM says:

    @DC denizen:

    I’ll take a stab at it:

    The arguments in favor of the transgender ban — such as unit cohesion, mental health, military effectiveness, and cost — seem both compelling, and largely unrefuted. So I don’t see any basis for saying that those arguments have been “used up,” as opposed to well supported.

    Unit cohesion – as there are currently trans troops serving, have their units suffered a loss of cohesion? This gets brought out for every new group – blacks, women, gays, etc and we have yet to see an appreciable drop. That’s because for most troops, this is not an issue. They have more important things to worry about and frankly don’t care. Being dependable when it counts is the important criteria, not what’s in your pants. It’s kind of insulting if you think about it, treating those who defend our nation as simple-minded weaklings who can’t handle change and can’t relate to people not like them. They’re grown adults and it’s a big world out there. They’ll be fine.

    Mental health – this assumes being trans is a mental illness. I’m unclear why you would think their mental health is in question when they are doing something that helps them feel better and aligns their mental and physical images of themselves. In fact, denying them would worsen their mental health the same way denying someone any essential part of their identity would be. Considering the military’s record with mental health issues as is, this is a strange hill to die on. Once we can say we’ve got PTSD and rampant suicide under wraps, we can talk about how this is what’s messing up the troops.

    Military effectiveness – here I’m assuming it means readiness for deployment and active duty. While someone who is mid-transition would have immediate medical issues to be dealt with, post-op trans troops would be virtually indistinguishable from their counterparts with the possible exception of needing some medication. As the military allows individuals to serve with certain conditions that require medication, I don’t understand why hormone treatment gets singled out instead of something like migraines, high blood pressure, high cholesterol or some of the other things our troops definitely suffer from. Perhaps they can’t be front line troops due to the medication issue but to be completely banned makes no sense.

    Cost – We’re putting a limited monetary value on what a solider can have done medically now? Great, because they’re plenty of things we can cut out of the funding as wastes of government money. The obvious is things like Viagra but what about treatment for non-work related injuries? It’s not the taxpayers’ fault you need a transplant because of bad genetics or broke your leg on liberty. Hell, if cost is truly a factor why not be completely heartless and ask why spouses and dependents get care? They’re not serving so why pay for them? The answer is pretty simple: it’s the right thing to do for the families for people risking their lives. It’s a moral choice. People are attacking trans troops as a waste of money simply because they don’t morally agree with the procedure. That’s not a road we want to go down. Cost is being used as a proxy and is in truth a minuscule amount of the budget.

    In short, these arguments seem familiar because they get trotted out every time something happens to the military conservatives don’t like. They predicated unit cohesion would crash if gays openly served. Has it? They predicated women in combat would harm military effectiveness. Has it? They say the military is not a social experiment but in truth, it has been for over a century now and has yet to collapse in apocalyptic chaos.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 1

  23. James Pearce says:

    @DC denizen:

    The arguments in favor of the transgender ban — such as unit cohesion, mental health, military effectiveness, and cost — seem both compelling, and largely unrefuted.

    Unrefuted mostly because the left is lazy and complacent and they have forgotten that pointing fingers and screeching like a frickin body snatcher is a bad look.

    They can’t conceive that any non-bigoted arguments for the ban exist –they do– and certainly don’t want to believe they could be persuasive, which they can be.

    So you’re not wrong when you say, “Very few arguments against the transgender ban amount to anything other than self-serving virtue-signalling.”

    But you are wrong in arguing “unit cohesion, mental health, military effectiveness, and cost” as reasons to ban all transgendered troops. I think that they can serve in any capacity, special forces included, but if you think they can’t be pilots or drone operators or even medics, you’ll have to do better than “Sex changes are expensive!”

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 1

  24. KM says:

    @James Pearce:

    I think that they can serve in any capacity, special forces included, but if you think they can’t be pilots or drone operators or even medics, you’ll have to do better than “Sex changes are expensive!”

    Precisely. Competency and one’s gender (chosen or otherwise) have zero in common. The example I like to use is cook or as the US Army refers to it, Culinary Specialist. I have yet to hear a single argument as to why someone trans would be ill-suited to such a harmless job other then a poorly-concealed “eww they’re touching my food”. The military has many, many positions other then that of front-line troops. Cons like to say it’s all about costs but if the trans troops had all their medical bills paid for elsewhere, there’d still be people pushing for the ban based on faulty logic like DC Denizen’s.

    I think it’s funny virtue-signalling came up because what is the ban but a giant neon billboard of one? We currently have trans troops serving honorably with no major issues – why do they suddenly need to go? Did something happen to make them less capable since Trump’s tweet? Has there been any stories about trans troops causing problems prior to this administration’s decision to cave to lobbyists? What makes this insignificant part of the huge military-industrial complex’s waste the most urgent part to cut? This was Trump trying to virtue-signal across eight lanes of traffic at the last second.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  25. James Pearce says:

    @KM:

    I think it’s funny virtue-signalling came up because what is the ban but a giant neon billboard of one?

    Well, to be fair, Trump’s ban isn’t really virtue signaling, and that’s what so clever about it. I mean, there is no moralizing in it at all. I don’t know if the conservative Christians even noticed, but he’s talking about saving money, not souls. The only “American value” mentioned is the one about not wanting to pay medical costs.

    What it is, and this is what makes him so awful as president, is screwing with a few thousand unfortunate people to a) give his side a minor victory (and it is minor, soooo minor, probably even temporary) and b) his opponents a reason to rend their garments and pull on their hair.

    In a sense, I guess, you could say he’s screwing with millions of people then.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  26. An Interested Party says:

    Excluding transgender applicants is perfectly rational, and will save taxpayers money.

    Considering that the military spends 10 times more money on erectile dysfunction medication than it would on gender affirmation-related costs for transgender personnel, it is rather interesting what some people prioritize as saving taxpayers money…I mean, if we going to do a cost-benefit analysis of what the military spends, let us look at everything and not just issues relating to transgender individuals, shall we? Unless, of course, that isn’t the real problem that some people have with this issue? It couldn’t possibly be that, now could it…

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 2

  27. Just 'nutha ig'nint cracker says:

    @James Pearce:

    The only “American value” mentioned is the one about not wanting to pay medical costs.

    You make it sound as if not wanting to pay medical costs isn’t a Conservative Christian principle. Evidence?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  28. BobM001 says:

    For every dollar you spend on the medications/treatment of one of these with “gender dysphoria” that’s a dollar you DON’T spend on FORCE READINESS or equipment for the troops. Why not ask the “Dog Face Soldier” what THEY want? All these “office pinkies” and politicians will NEVER set foot in the field of battle.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0