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Trump Announces Ban On Transgender Military Service

pentagon1

Once again turning to his preferred communications medium of Twitter, President Trump this morning announced what appears to be a sweeping change toward the policies of the U.S. military regarding service by transgender individuals:

WASHINGTON — President Trump announced on Wednesday that the United States will not “accept or allow” transgender people in the United States military, saying American forces “must be focused on decisive and overwhelming victory” and could not afford to accommodate them.

Mr. Trump made the surprise declaration in a series of posts on Twitter, saying he had come to the decision after talking to generals and military experts, whom he did not name.

“After consultation with my generals and military experts, please be advised that the United States government will not accept or allow transgender individuals to serve in any capacity in the U.S. military,” Mr. Trump wrote. “Our military must be focused on decisive and overwhelming victory and cannot be burdened with the tremendous medical costs and disruption that transgender in the military would entail.”

The sweeping policy decision reverses the gradual transformation of the military under President Barack Obama, whose administration announced last year that transgender people could serve openly in the military. Mr. Obama’s defense secretary, Ashton B. Carter, also opened all combat roles to women and appointed the first openly gay Army secretary.

It was not clear what prompted Mr. Trump’s announcement on Wednesday. In June, the administration delayed a decision on whether to allow transgender recruits to join the military. At the time, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said an extra six months would give military leaders a chance to review its potential impact.

The president’s announcement came amid a debate on Capitol Hill over the Obama-era practice of requiring the Pentagon to pay for medical treatment related to gender transition. The dispute has unfolded as Congress considers a nearly $700 billion spending bill to fund the Pentagon. Representative Vicky Hartzler, Republican of Missouri, has proposed an amendment that would bar the Pentagon from spending money on transition surgery or related hormone therapy.

The same measure narrowly failed this month in the House, with some Republicans joining Democrats to reject it. But some conservative Republicans have said they would not support the military spending measure without the language banning money for gender transition.

Here are Trump’s tweets on this issue:

As it stands, the announcement from Trump appears to have caught the Pentagon by surprise to some degree. Secretary of Defense Mattis is on vacation, and reporters are saying that they haven’t been able to get a response from other Defense Department officials as of yet. If Trump is to be taken at this word, though, then it would appear that this goes beyond the issue of the military declining to cover the cost of gender reassignment surgery and other issues that were still being reviewed inside the Pentagon and essentially means that any transgender person who has come out of the closet since the policy change was announced will end up being discharged and that people who identify as transgendered will not be accepted as recruits going forward. At the same time, those members of the military who are transgendered but are not serving openly will have to live in constant fear that they will be subject to discharge and discipline if they are discovered in much the same way that gay and lesbian service members lived prior to the time when the military’s “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” policy was finally repealed in 2011.

According to a study by the RAND Corporation, there are roughly 2,500 transgendered individuals actively serving in the military, but the same study also stated that a change in policy regarding transgender individuals could impact as many as 11,000 people once you include not only people on active duty but also reservists and members of National Guard units that could be called to fill combat or other overseas roles as has occurred over the past decade in Iraq and Afghanistan. In recent years, though, the military has been exploring the issues surrounding this segment of the population and their service in the military, as well as the extent to which the military medical services would cover the cost of gender reassignment surgery for those already in the military. Just over a year ago, however, the Pentagon announced that it was ending the ban on transgender individuals serving in the military and also announced that transgender individuals would be able to receive hormone therapy and gender reassignment surgery at government expense provided that treating medical professionals deemed it to be medically necessary. The new policy also provided that new recruits would have to be “stable” in their gender identity for at least 18 months before they would be accepted into the military, a policy that seemed at first glance to be reasonable under the circumstances. At the time, the Defense Department said that the change in policy would occur in phases and that it came after a long process that included consultation with transgender service members, leaders of the military itself, and outside experts. The Trump Defense Department was continuing that process but had recently signaled that it might need more time to consider the changes that would have to be made to allow the policy change to move forward. There was no indication, though, that they were considering revoking the policy entirely.

In what amounts to a sad bit of irony, this announcement comes on the 69th anniversary of the day that President Harry Truman signed Executive Order 9981, which ended the long-standing racial segregation in the military that had become increasingly anachronistic and more obviously unjust in the wake of the Second World War. Whether Trump or the White House was aware of this fact is unclear, although one gets the sense that nobody over there has any clue when it comes to historical milestones such as this. In any case, given the fact that many of America’s closest allies, including  Australia, Austria, Belgium, Bolivia, Canada, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Israel, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Spain, Sweden and United Kingdom, allow transgender individuals serve openly in the military and have not reported any problems or issues whatsoever, it seems clear that there is no rational basis for this ban. Just as with allowing African-Americans and women to serve in non-segregated units, there’s simply no reason to believe that a properly trained military force would not able to accommodate transgender soldiers. The experience since the repeal of ‘Don’t Ask Don’t Tell’ should also stand as evidence that there is no rational basis for banning people because of their gender identity. Based on that, this policy change seems to be rooted in nothing more than pure bigotry, a complete refutation of Trump’s campaign promise that he would be “a real friend” to the LGBT community, and nothing more than a sop to the bigoted social conservatives in the GOP who seem oddly obsessed with things such as people’s genitals and what bathroom they use.

Here’s a copy of the RAND Corporation study I referenced above:

Rand Corporation Study On Transgender Military Service by Doug Mataconis on Scribd

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. Jen says:

    The War on Human Decency continues.

    That people who want to serve their country are being prohibited from doing so by a president who received five deferments for bone spurs…he really is a pathetic excuse for a man.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 27 Thumb down 4

  2. CSK says:

    Well, there’s always the distinct possibility that he’ll have reversed himself on this by tomorrow. Or by this evening. Remember when he said that women should be punished for having abortions? An hour later, that became “punish the abortion providers, not the women.” And an hour after that, it was “leave the laws the way they are.”

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 12 Thumb down 1

  3. CSK says:

    @Jen:

    I wonder if he made this “policy” statement to placate those of his base who are upset with his treatment of Sessions?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 15 Thumb down 2

  4. Facebones says:

    This is a distraction, designed to give the Fox News crowd something to talk to the base about. It gives Hannity and Doocy some red meat to throw out there and avoid talking about Russia, Sessions, the open rebellion of his cabinet, and the health care fiasco.

    The fact that it will needlessly hurt people is just an added bonus.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 21 Thumb down 4

  5. Tony W says:

    @Facebones:

    This is a distraction, designed to give the Fox News crowd something to talk to the base about.

    Not to get all Godwin on you, but it’s also a core tactic used in Germany in the 1930s

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 12 Thumb down 5

  6. Scott says:

    Tweets do not make policy. So it remains to be seen what will actually happen. Given that the Pentagon is denying knowledge of the change, I will assume this is a Bannon/Miller production.

    Once again, Trump lies only when his lip move (or when his fingers tap).

    There is already pushback from Congress, including the Republicans. (McCain, Ernst, Shelby)

    And some anonymous White House staffer admitted that this is just a base stirrer like Karl Rove used to do.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 13 Thumb down 1

  7. Facebones says:

    @Scott: Yeah, spare me the tales of brave, mavericky republicans standing up to Trump. If I want fairy tales, I’ll read Hans Christian Anderson.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 19 Thumb down 2

  8. Visitor X says:

    Unfortunately, this ban is correct. Trump does not have a personal antipathy to transgender people. He left intact the Obama administration’s ban on discrimination against transgender people by federal contractors.

    But Trump was right to ban transgender people from the military, just as the military is right to discriminate based on many criteria forbidden in civilian employment, such as age and disability (the military doesn’t recruit people in wheelchairs or senior citizens).

    The military is not just any employer, and is not like a civilian employer. It exists to kill the enemy, not be politically-correct or inclusive, and to do so at the absolute minimum cost. Transgender people have been receiving costly taxpayer-funded treatments and sex-change operations from institutions that house them, like prisons, and if left in the military, taxpayers will be forced to pay billions for such operations and treatments.

    Why should the military recruit transgender individuals, given the considerable cost to taxpayers of sex-change operations?

    It transgender people are allowed in the military, they will get taxpayer-funded medical treatment — not just sex-change operations, but other costly treatments — which will ultimately cost several billion dollars:

    http://barbwire.com/2017/07/25/sex-change-surgeries-cost-military-billion-much-new-navy-destroyer/

    Congress recently voted not to defund such treatments, with 23 liberal Republicans joining virtually all Democrats in supporting taxpayer funding.

    And transgender-rights groups threatened to sue if taxpayers stopped paying for military sex-changes, calling such a defunding “discriminatory” and “unconstitutional,” even though logically it is neither, since many elective medical procedures are not paid for by the military.

    Poorly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 42

  9. michael reynolds says:

    @Visitor X:

    Bullshit.

    The military spends 5 times as much on Viagra as it would on transgender troops.

    And that’s even before we get to the various arms purchases the Pentagon doesn’t actually want, but which various Congress people do.

    We’ve heard the ‘readiness’ argument when it was used against integration, and when it was used against women. It’s a lie. The ‘too costly’ line is a lie.

    You are straining to justify what is not a thought-out policy but a desperate ploy by a terrified Trump to suck up to the nasty Evangelicals who are disturbed at Trump’s attacks on Sessions.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 47 Thumb down 4

  10. James Pearce says:

    @CSK:

    I wonder if he made this “policy” statement to placate those of his base who are upset with his treatment of Sessions?

    The base’s fealty to Sessions may be overstated. Consider: In a “Trump-Sessions” war, how many do you think would actually break for Sessions?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 2

  11. Argon says:

    As if he actually gives a crap about the issue…

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 0

  12. DrDaveT says:

    @Visitor X:

    If transgender people are allowed in the military, they will get taxpayer-funded medical treatment —

    …and it never occurred to you that perhaps the fix for this is to get rid of the unaffordable “TRICARE for life” benefit to military personnel in general, rather than singling out an already-discriminated-against tiny minority to blame?

    The taxpayers give more than $50 billion annually in tax-free “disability benefits” to veterans, most of whom you would never guess were disabled at all if you knew them in private life. That’s real money, not like the invisible pittance that would have been spent on gender surgeries under your fantasy scenario. I will believe that you are genuinely concerned about wasting taxpayer money when you clamor for a modernization of the disability schedule so that only actually disabled vets get the benefit.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 27 Thumb down 2

  13. Not the IT Dept. says:

    Well, apparently “his generals” don’t work at the Pentagon, which has no idea what the idiot is tweeting about. No change to the policy on the Pentagon website, no race to support the idea from other Republicans – so it’s just so many pixels dying in the open. Nothing will change, everyone relax.

    But if we’re taking bets, I’d say it’s his way of trying to (as David Axelrod put it) chum the waters to attract the base before ousting Sessions, which just might succeed in doing to Trump what nothing else has been able to: losing the Trumpkins.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 0

  14. Stormy Dragon says:

    And remember, @realDonald is totally just his personal twitter account and is in no way being used for official purposes!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 0

  15. Not the IT Dept. says:

    @James Pearce:

    Oh, I think a lot of Trumpkins would break for Sessions. It was Sessions who gave Trump his big policy plank of being anti-immigrant, wall-building, etc. Before Sessions took him up, Trump was all about whining about the mean way the other candidates treated him. Trump owes Sessions as much as he owes anyone – which is probably another reason Trump is iffy about him right now.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 1

  16. James Pearce says:

    @Not the IT Dept.:

    Oh, I think a lot of Trumpkins would break for Sessions.

    They’re Trumpkins, though. Trump is still all about whining, about the Russia investigation, the media, how the GOP doesn’t just coronate him already.

    Trump owes Sessions as much as he owes anyone

    No, he doesn’t. Trump is the president. Sessions is the AG who serves at the president’s pleasure.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 3

  17. Pete S says:

    @Not the IT Dept.: I think when he says “my Generals” he is referring to retired generals he plays golf with. “Military experts” are loudmouths at the bars at his golf courses who may or may not have served in the military 40 years ago..

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 0

  18. KM says:

    @James Pearce:

    They’re Trumpkins, though

    I think what Not IT means is for some, being a Trumpkin happened because he was the best way to make those things happen. Sessions gave him the cred and the means so to get rid of him with no visible rewards for that segment of the base is…. problematic. We treat Trumpkins as a single slobbering horde all too often. There are subtypes and a major one was the Loyal So I Can Get My Way type. Another is Self-Identification/Projection type who just might see the Southern hater Sessions as more relateable then the Yankee hater Trump.

    A Trumpkin doesn’t necessarily stay a Trumpkin, remember. While I personally don’t think firing Sessions will do anything to his hardcore nutty devoted base, those who sided with him to get *their* agenda done and not *his* might start to get pissed.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  19. Liberal Capitalist says:

    @Visitor X:

    But Trump was right to ban transgender people from the military…

    Kristen Beck disagrees with you, and would likely take you outside and kick your … belief system.

    A retired Navy SEAL Team 6 hero who is transgender had a message for President Donald Trump after he announced the US military would not accept transgender people.

    “Let’s meet face to face and you tell me I’m not worthy,” Kristin Beck, a 20-year veteran of the Navy SEALs, told Business Insider on Wednesday. “Transgender doesn’t matter. Do your service.”

    Beck said Trump’s abrupt change in policy could negatively affect many currently or wanting to serve in the military. A RAND Corp. study estimates that there are between 1,320 and 6,630 transgender people currently serving. Many of them just want to serve their country like everyone else, Beck said.

    “Being transgender doesn’t affect anyone else,” Beck said. “We are liberty’s light. If you can’t defend that for everyone that’s an American citizen, that’s not right.”

    Source information

    Could it be possible that you may have some misguided preconceived notions?

    Beck is not just your average service member. Born Christopher Beck, she served for 20 years in the Navy with SEAL Teams 1, 5, and, eventually, the elite 6. She deployed 13 times over two decades, including stints in Bosnia, Iraq, and Afghanistan. She received the Bronze Star award for valor and the Purple Heart for wounds suffered in combat.

    source

    Now, once you tell me that you exceeded her service… Maybe then, you can tell me how you can defend unconstitutional discrimination.

    We’ll wait.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 27 Thumb down 2

  20. wr says:

    @Visitor X: If the essential role of the military was to kill people at the lowest possible cost, we would have a draft.

    It’s not.

    If the essential role of the military was to kill people at the lowest possible cost, the Pentagon would prohibit the CEOs of arms-makers from making tens of millions of dollars.

    They don’t.

    If the essential role of the military was to kill people at the lowest possible cost, we would not be hiring contractors to fight for us.

    We do.

    I don’t know where you got this fantastic idea that somehow the military is completely separate from all other aspects of human endeavour, and I hope you’ll let us know, because I’d like to avoid those cheesy novels.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 11 Thumb down 1

  21. Neil Hudelson says:

    Hey Doug,

    Great article overall. I really am usually not one to language police, but I just wanted to highlight your use of the term “transgendered.” While that term is often used innocently by people who don’t work with the LGBT community, it is considered to be fairly offensive. The “ed” ending denotes a condition: “cancer-riddled,” “retarded,” etc. Being transgender is just being transgender, same as being male or female. You wouldn’t say “maled troops” or “femaled troops” because being female or male isn’t a condition.

    Again, great article, and I wasn’t trying to call you out. I was just made aware of the complexities of this term by multiple trans individuals, and I thought I’d share.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 14 Thumb down 2

  22. KM says:

    My thoughts on military service: Can you shoot a gun properly and not your fellow soldiers? Are you physically, mentally, socially and spiritually capable of doing what the service requires of you? Are you willing to die and/or be maimed for your country? Can you manage to not be a $#&*$&* when in the service and not be That Guy in the safety briefings so they don’t last all damn day? Can you not embarrass America or causing international incidents on a daily basis?

    Great! Sign up is over there. Otherwise, your life is none of my business. Have a great tour and be safe!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 1

  23. Not the IT Dept. says:

    Frosting on the cake, cherry on the sundae: Mattis is on VACATION this week!

    Prediction: this will be over by the weekend, and the status quo remains.

    Re what I meant, as per comments above: I meant that in as much as Trumpkins have one thing they want more than anything, it’s immigration “reform”. Sessions was beating that drum long before Trump arrived on the scene, and he had his fanbase for it. If you’re a passionate anti-immigration Trumpkin, you’re going to be pretty ticked at Cheetoh Jesus for canning the one guy in the cabinet who’s actually doing stuff to screw over immigrants. There’s no one in the wing-nut or right-wing media or commentary who is on Trump’s side in any battle with Sessions, so it’s not like the Trumpkins would get another side of the story.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  24. Just 'nutha ig'nint cracker says:

    @michael reynolds:
    @DrDaveT:
    @Liberal Capitalist:
    @wr:

    Just curious, is “he who shall not be named” warming up a new sock puppet, or is Visitor X a newbie?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 1

  25. Kylopod says:

    @Just ‘nutha ig’nint cracker:

    Just curious, is “he who shall not be named” warming up a new sock puppet, or is Visitor X a newbie?

    If you’re thinking of who I’m thinking, perhaps–but for what it’s worth, he was never anti-LGBT before. Whenever LGBT issues came up, his strategy was to find some way to blame Democrats or accuse them of a double standard. For example, he opposed Kim Davis, but said it was because she was a Democrat that she was behaving unconstitutionally. (And when Davis changed her party affiliation soon after, he was nowhere in sight.) Of course I wouldn’t count on him for consistency in anything except pro-GOP and pro-Trump hackery, but there’s that.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  26. James Pearce says:

    @Neil Hudelson:

    I was just made aware of the complexities of this term by multiple trans individuals

    I have a feeling we’ll be working through many different terms over the next several decades, and as one goes out of style, it will take on a shade of offensiveness.

    I mean, I’m old enough to remember when the term “transsexual” was in common usage, but…well, there were complaints. “It’s not about sex,” they cried, “It’s about gender!”

    So now we have a new problematic term to replace the old problematic term. Progress?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 2

  27. CSK says:

    @Not the IT Dept.:

    Yeah, I was laughing about the fact that Mattis is on vacay.

    I do love the way Trump refers to “my generals.” What, they’re his personal property? If one of them has the temerity to disagree with him, will he have that general shot at dawn by firing squad?

    “My generals.” Just another illustration in an apparently unending series of them of what a pathetic strutting little bantam Trump really is.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  28. Daryl's other brother Darryl says:

    Bottom line…Thanks to President Bone Spurs, Americans are less free today than they were on January 19th, 2017.
    Welcome to Trumpistan.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 1

  29. J-Dub says:

    Trump’s campaign promise that he would be “a real friend” to the LGBT community

    I know of no LGBTQ folks who fell for this, other than maybe Matt Drudge and Milo Yiannopoulos

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  30. Daryl's other brother Darryl says:

    Trump – June 2016…

    “I’m much better for women than she is,” he said. “I’m much better for the gays.”

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  31. Neil Hudelson says:

    @James Pearce:

    So now we have a new problematic term to replace the old problematic term. Progress?

    Why is the new term problematic? I laid out the semantic reasons for the change; the reasons seem logical and reasonable.

    Our understanding of gender, the visibility (and voice) of the transgender community, and our cultural willingness to engage in a discussion on these issues is exponentially greater now than just a few years ago. It’s unsurprising to me that the language and vocabulary around these topics will evolve as well.

    Indeed, I think there is so little developed language around trans issues that we’ll see more (and more frequent) linguistic evolution on this than on most contemporary societal issues. That’s natural and inevitable.

    (One could also argue that all aspects of language evolves. Sometimes over centuries, sometimes over years.)

    So yeah, this is progress.

    (Unless you meant direct political progress, in which case no, but that doesn’t make it unimportant)

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 0

  32. James Pearce says:

    @Neil Hudelson:

    Why is the new term problematic?

    It’s not, unless you add a suffix at the end, in which case it apparently skips over “problematic” and lands right on “fairly offensive.”

    (Unfairly offensive, perhaps?)

    Twenty years from now when the term is “non-binary” or whatever we come up with, we’ll all look like barbarians for using the term “transgender.” Maybe policing the language should be deprioritized, especially in light of today’s events?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 5

  33. michael reynolds says:

    FYI, John McCain and believe it or not, Orrin Hatch, oppose this ban.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 0

  34. Kylopod says:

    @michael reynolds:

    FYI, John McCain and believe it or not, Orrin Hatch, oppose this ban.

    According to Politico, what prompted this decision was some House Republicans who merely wanted to cut funding for sex reassignment operations. Then Trump took it a step further and made his tweet calling for an outright ban on transgender troops. In other words, during this debate nobody until Trump suggested actually throwing transgender people out of the military. Congressional Republicans have no problem being cruel, but you have to leave it to Trump to attempt something that’s also stupidly disruptive and costly.

    I mention that in order to dispel with the notion that Republicans who oppose this move should be credited with being sane and reasonable. It’s the same thing I saw happening a few years ago during the government shutdown, when Republicans were referred to in media accounts as “moderates” simply if they opposed the shutdown. It’s a phenomenon I like to call the Iraqi Gandhi Principle, where people are treated as a voice of reason for simply being not quite as deranged as someone else.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 12 Thumb down 1

  35. An Interested Party says:

    I know of no LGBTQ folks who fell for this, other than maybe Matt Drudge and Milo Yiannopoulos

    Don’t forget Peter Thiel…although acquiring as much money as possible may be far more important to him than his civil rights as a gay man…

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  36. de stijl says:

    @James Pearce:

    My personal behavior is to call people the name by which they wish to be called. It’s not really that hard.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0

  37. de stijl says:

    @An Interested Party:

    Libertarians are inherently selfish. It’s baked in. It’s canon.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  38. Hal_10000 says:

    Politico is reporting that Trump did this to get his border wall. The funding was hung up because the religious right wanted a ban on transition surgery. So Trump, being such a masterful negotiator and all, immediately give them everything they wanted and then some in exchange for nothing.

    Wonder how Jenner is feeling about now.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 0

  39. de stijl says:

    @James Pearce:

    I could call you Jim. I could call you Jimmy.

    I won’t, though.

    That would be rude since you self-identify as James.

    If twenty years from now you prefer to be called Jamie, I will call you Jamie.

    This isn’t very difficult.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 0

  40. James Pearce says:

    @de stijl:

    My personal behavior is to call people the name by which they wish to be called.

    Sure, mine, too. I’ll even use the correct pronouns.

    But I’m still going to question whether it’s worthwhile to get into the whole “transgender” versus “transgendered” debate. I don’t want to make enemies out of allies.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 3

  41. Kylopod says:

    @J-Dub: @An Interested Party: @de stijl: A while back Ta-Nehisi Coates presented the following quote from a book written at the turn of the 20th century:

    I am firmly rooted in the conviction that negroism, as exemplified in the American type, is an attitude of mental density, a kind of spiritual sensuousness…

    The negro not only lacks a fair degree of intuitive knowledge, but so dense is his understanding that he blindly follows weird fantasies and hideous phantoms. So great is his predilection in this direction, that he appears incapable of understanding the difference between evidence and assertion, proof and surmise. These facts warrant the conclusion that negro intelligence is both superficial and delusive, because, though such people excel in recollections of a concrete object, their retentive memories do not enable them to make any valuable deductions, either from the object itself, or from their familiar experience with it.

    Those words are from a book called The American Negro (1901), written by William Hannibal Thomas, a black man.

    I mention this because one fact a lot of people are shockingly ignorant about is that there have always been people out there who support and even cheer on bigotry against their own group. You see it with pretty much every form of prejudice in existence. There are Jews who cheer on anti-Semitism, women who cheer on misogyny, gays who cheer on homophobia. You probably have to turn to abnormal psychology to understand what drives people like this. But it’s absolutely beyond dispute that these people exist, and therefore anytime you hear someone dismissing charges of racism, sexism, etc. on the grounds that they can point to a member of the targeted group who agrees with them, that’s pretty much proof positive the person is defending bigotry. It’s one of the oldest excuses, a variant on “Many of my best friends are…”

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 1

  42. de stijl says:

    @James Pearce:

    Just make a good faith effort and be willing to sincerely apologize if you misstep.

    One of my friends changed her name a few years after she took a new faith. Suddenly, the woman I”d always called S wished to be called M. I screwed up a lot the first month. I apologized. I got better at it.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 0

  43. Daryl's other brother Darryl says:

    @michael reynolds:

    FYI, John McCain and believe it or not, Orrin Hatch, oppose this ban.

    But then McCain will do whatever Trump tells him to do.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 1

  44. Neil Hudelson says:

    @James Pearce:

    Twenty years from now when the term is “non-binary” or whatever we come up with, we’ll all look like barbarians for using the term “transgender.”

    Possibly, although I have to admit that prospect doesn’t upset me much. That said, generally the word used by the community it represents is not looked back upon offensively. Archaic, yes, but not offensive. It’s when the person from yesteryear refuses to change their vocabulary that it becomes offensive.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 1

  45. michael reynolds says:

    @Daryl’s other brother Darryl:
    I suspect what’s going on here relates to the Politico piece. Trump basically threw trans soldiers under the bus in a desperate ploy not just to get wall funding but as a trade-off for trashing Sessions, who the far right nuts love.

    I think this is Senators basically rejecting that trade. Saying no, we stand with Sessions still.

    Who’s have thought the nasty, ignorant, racist little toad would end up as a stumbling block to the nasty, ignorant, corrupt, treasonous toad-in-chief?”

    I say this as a guy who wrote a whole nanotech-destroys-civilization under the aegis of a two-headed conjoined twin who keeps mind-slaves in the spheres of a natural gas ship: I could not write this much crazy.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 10 Thumb down 0

  46. CSK says:

    Trump went right back to trashing Sessions on Twitter. Obviously this has become his raison d’etre.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  47. Neil Hudelson says:

    @James Pearce:

    don’t want to make enemies out of allies.

    If politely–and I was very polite–asking an ally to slightly modify their language, for well laid out reasons and to avoid offense, causes one to lose an ally, that person was never an ally to begin with, no?

    If you asked me as a friend to call you Jim, and I told you you had just lost an ally with that request, buddy, wouldn’t you question how much of a friend I really was?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 1

  48. Jen says:

    @CSK:

    Trump went right back to trashing Sessions on Twitter. Obviously this has become his raison d’etre.

    To establish the groundwork for a possible firing and recess appointment. I hope the Senate remembers how they never went into proper “recess” in order to block President Obama from making a recess appointment to the Supreme Court.

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  49. Tony W says:

    @Neil Hudelson: You are spot on with your discussion of the evolution of language.

    One example: for years we used the term “retarded” for people with Down’s Syndrome. Over the years that term has become loaded with a ton of meaning beyond it’s raw dictionary meaning of ‘slower’, so polite society has evolved the terminology we use to describe the syndrome.

    We do so out of respect.

    @James Pearce:

    But I’m still going to question whether it’s worthwhile to get into the whole “transgender” versus “transgendered” debate.

    The point is, unless you are in the group, you don’t get to choose how they prefer to be referred to. And even then, you only get to choose for yourself.

    Nobody is proposing putting the rule of law to this. Trump notwithstanding, it’s just what people do when they’re trying to have a nice society.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 1

  50. Tyrell says:

    Evidently the military people had some concerns over this and the way it was rushed in last year. They evidently need more time to study this. That is most likely what happened here. An idea would be to form a special committee of medical and psychology people to study this and how the military can best handle. The military is not like your run of the mill government agency like a school system, post office, or license tag bureau. In the military people often have to work close together and as one in tense, dangerous situations for extended periods of time. It is not a place for people who have some sort of “identity” crisis or are trying to sort out who they are. It is not a place for social experimentation.
    This thing was rushed, pushed, and forced through by Secretary Carter and President Obama last year. Some had warned they were moving too fast. And with North Korea and Iran turning up the heat our military does not need distractions and diversions. No one is questioning these people’s abilities or dedication. And it is not hatred or ” transphobiaism “.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 12

  51. J-Dub says:

    I say this as a guy who wrote a whole nanotech-destroys-civilization under the aegis of a two-headed conjoined twin who keeps mind-slaves in the spheres of a natural gas ship: I could not write this much crazy.

    Sounds like you have the makings of a religion, a la L. Ron Hubbard.

    I read Gone, by the way, and am trying to get my 13 yr old step-daughter to give it a try. Which reminds me, how much do you have to pay in royalties to Williams Goldings estate?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 1

  52. grumpy realist says:

    @Tony W: But we’re still allowed to use the word “dumb”, right? (Also meaning someone who cannot speak).

    Maybe we should just go over to Greek insults, which have been described as “ornate, vulgar, and biological.”

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  53. CSK says:

    @Jen:

    The usual White House anonymous sources are saying that Trump wants to “torture” (their word) Sessions over the long term. The goal is to force him to resign.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  54. Tyrell says:

    @CSK: Why does he not like Sessions? Seems like now he is turning Sessions into the good guy.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  55. KM says:

    @Tyrell:

    They evidently need more time to study this. That is most likely what happened here.

    We need more time! Fire everyone till we can figure out what’s up!! Screw the disruption it would cause, operations it can endanger, the money wasted and what happens if we decide we wanted to keep them all anyways, FIRE ‘EM ALL!!! That’s the Trump way!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  56. CSK says:

    @Tyrell:

    Because Sessions recused himself from the Russia investigation. Trump’s been in a non-stop towering rage over this for months.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  57. Franklin says:

    @Tyrell: Well I comprehend your viewpoint, I have two main issues with it:

    1) You’re pretending that only transgender people might have social issues. I don’t feel the need to elaborate because this seems so obviously false to me.

    2) It ignores what seems to be the bigger argument for this ban, which was the medical costs. The only real study I’m aware of is the RAND one, but proponents of the ban have somehow exaggerated the few million dollars (budgeted per year) to “several billion dollars over a decade”. I’m not sure if these people know how to multiply by 10, but then again they are Republicans who reject science and math.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0

  58. James Pearce says:

    @de stijl:

    Just make a good faith effort and be willing to sincerely apologize if you misstep.

    Sure, but let’s clear the minefield too so that if someone missteps, they don’t get blown up.

    @Neil Hudelson:

    If politely–and I was very polite–asking an ally to slightly modify their language, for well laid out reasons and to avoid offense, causes one to lose an ally, that person was never an ally to begin with, no?

    I suspect most people are indifferent on this issue. They are neither allies nor enemies. They can be made allies if we emphasize human decency, individual agency, freedom, etc. They can be made enemies if we emphasize that they just don’t get it.

    @Tony W:

    Nobody is proposing putting the rule of law to this.

    I wish someone would. Here we are trying to enforce norms that are not actually norms. We’re acting like this is settled, and it’s not settled.

    I mean, we’re talking about people who resist labels, but insisting this is the proper label?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 1

  59. Tony W says:

    @grumpy realist:

    But we’re still allowed to use the word “dumb”, right?

    For now.

    Until the people who can’t speak start telling us they’d prefer a different word. But that’s a paradox for another day.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  60. Mister Bluster says:

    President PeeWee Paws Punked Again!

    Joint Chiefs to troops: ‘No modifications’ to transgender policy

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  61. Neil Hudelson says:

    @James Pearce:

    They can be made allies if we emphasize human decency, individual agency, freedom, etc.

    Agreed. Doesn’t language play a role in how we emphasize human decency? For instance, using equal terms (“male,” “female,” “transgender” or “maled,” femaled,” transgendered.”) is a pretty decent thing to do that causes almost no pain. Arguing that politely asking one to modify one’s language is an ‘attack’ doesn’t strike me as decent.

    They can be made enemies if we emphasize that they just don’t get it.

    Was someone doing that on here? Surely you don’t mean my comment to Doug. If you read that comment and saw someone enraged that Doug “just doesn’t get it, man” I think you are reading tone and content that was not intended (and, I think, isn’t there.) Indeed, I went out of my way to thank Doug for the article, and to be absolutely clear that I wasn’t attacking him, but rather sharing interesting knowledge I learned about the term “transgender” from the transgender community itself.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 1

  62. Neil Hudelson says:

    We’re acting like this is settled, and it’s not settled.

    One person mentions that a term is out of date, acknowledges that language is fluid and ever-evolving, and asks for slight modification of vocabulary to keep up with the norms within the transgender community.

    The other person mentions that, back in his day, this word was just fine, so isn’t this a buncha hooey?

    Who, in this scenario, is trying to enforce a norm that’s not actually a norm?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 1

  63. Mister Bluster says:

    Didn’t Chump say “After consultation with my generals and military experts,..”

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  64. Franklin says:

    @Tyrell: The weird thing about the Sessions thing is I just read a headline saying Trump risks losing Republican support if he ditches Sessions. THIS is the thing the GOP is going to hang their hat on? Not the 2 million other dumb things that Trump has done, but keeping this stereotypical Southern Republican around is the red line in the sand?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  65. Facebones says:

    @Franklin: It is crazy, but as it was pointed out in his confirmation hearings Sessions is well liked by his fellow senators. He’s “one of theirs.” The fact that Trump is going hard after a loyal soldier probably gives them pause. “If Sessions isn’t safe, then there’s no way Trump will do anything for us.”

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  66. James Pearce says:

    @Neil Hudelson:

    Was someone doing that on here?

    Yes, Neil, I’m sorry. An errant suffix at the end of a neologism sparked this whole debate.

    You may have thought you were defending the trans community’s honor, and being super-polite to boot, and you were, but it was also a little petty and a little superficial and it’s hard to conceive who or how that was supposed to help.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 3

  67. gVOR08 says:

    While I’d prefer we just treat people decently I do not, I confess, regard transgenders in the military as a priority issue. There simply are too few. The real issue here is Trumpsky’s decision making process, or complete lack thereof.

    The military had pretty much adapted and was moving forward. Then a few holy roller congress critters, I assume aided and abetted by Pence, decided to play to their base by making an issue of the inconsequential medical costs. So Trump, apparently unaware that there are already thousands of transgender personnel, declared no new ones as a solution. Now DoD is having to deal with policy change announced by tweet. Having been left for nine minutes between the first and second tweets wondering WTF he was announcing, maybe an attack on NK.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0

  68. Mister Bluster says:

    Whiner Winner White House Dinner! Mooch Meltdown!
    Anthony Scaramucci, Trump’s new communications director, just called into CNN and had a meltdown!
    “The fish stinks from the head,” Scaramucci said, “If Reince wants to explain he’s not a leaker, let him do that.”

    Let’s see now. Tony has been on the job for six days and he’s already coming unglued!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  69. CSK says:

    @Mister Bluster:

    Well, Trump only hires the best people, you know.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  70. Mikey says:

    @gVOR08:

    The real issue here is Trumpsky’s decision making process, or complete lack thereof.

    Here is a link to a tweet string by attorney and law professor Seth Abramson that lays out just how serious a matter this actually is, especially considering the specifics of the military’s response so far.

    https://twitter.com/SethAbramson/status/890618834104668160

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  71. Just 'nutha ig'nint cracker says:

    @Franklin: I heard a DOD spokesperson on a local (Portland Oregon) radio show this afternoon say that, year on year, surgeries for transgender soldiers have run between 5.5 and 8.5 million dollars a year. In other words, as the host of the show noted, less than what the WH has paid for transportation to Mar al Lago this year to date.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  72. teve tory says:

    @Just ‘nutha ig’nint cracker:

    Trump has spent $29 million on weekend vacations so far.

    source

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  73. Richard DeMent says:

    @Tyrell:

    “This thing was rushed, pushed, and forced through …”

    Same thing they said when Truman integrated the Military in 1948. We survived without much distraction.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  74. Improvement says:

    There are legitimate medical reasons to disqualify from service those who identify as transgender, including surgeries and daily hormones which also interfere with scheduled military training and ability to be deployed. Diabetics cannot serve for similar reasons. The taxpayer money that would have been spent on costly and risky elective surgeries and decades of synthetic hormones that can cause cancer, in an effort to change sexual appearance, will be much better spent on treating our combat wounded servicemen and our veterans, and on buying equipment to keep our servicemen safe.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  75. DrDaveT says:

    @Improvement:

    The taxpayer money that would have been spent on costly and risky elective surgeries and [yadda yadda] will be much better spent on treating our combat wounded servicemen and our veterans

    Apparently you can’t read. Try again, and see if you still want to make a claim here based on cost to the taxpayers.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0