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After the Supreme Court ruled that imposing a ban on military service by openly transgender members of the military was within the president’s powers, the Trump Administration has rolled out its policy to implement its desired ban. In spirit the policy revives the old “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” idea that the Clinton Administration devised to kick the can down the road in the 1990s in regard to service on the part of openly gay soldiers, sailors, airmen, and Marines. That idea was unwise, impractical, and hypocritical then, and it’s even dumber to try to revive its putrid corpse in this case. This can only be considered as an act of pure prejudice, made worse by the fact that it’s directed at a very small and politically weak minority. It should be especially repulsive to conservatives who believe that individual character and merit — not to mention love of country — count above specious group “identities.”
The nub of the new policy is this: after April 12, troops who have been diagnosed with “gender dysphoria” who are receiving hormone therapy or are in the process of gender transition will not be permitted to enlist. Currently serving troops with gender dysphoria must serve in their “birth gender” and may not receive hormone therapy or transition-related surgeries. Service members can be discharged if diagnosed with dysphoria if he or she is “unable or unwilling to adhere to all applicable standards, including the standards associated with his or her biological sex, or seeks transition to another gender.”
In other words, the ban makes no pretense of fitness for duty or military effectiveness generally. It takes no account of the fact that, since the Obama Administration permitted transgender troops to serve openly, there have been no serious problems created. People in uniform have simply shrugged and gone about their business. At a time when the services are struggling to achieve their recruiting and retention goals — and the services lack sufficient strength to fill even front-line units properly — the ban not only makes no military sense, but is an insult to the judgment and initiative of commanders at all echelons.
Thus it was no surprise that service chiefs were taken by surprise and have kept their distance from Trump’s ban from the start. Nor can they be thrilled that kow-towing to a small but vocal part of Trump’s base — those whose sense of patriotism is as narrow-minded as their religious views — has injected a political poison into the military personnel system. When the chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee announces that, in addition to increasing the defense budget and modernizing the aging nuclear triad, his third big goal is implementing the trans ban, you can be sure that the defense “community” has lost its bearings.
What’s especially ironic about the logic behind the ban is that it swallows the “progressive” idea that citizenship is measured by one’s group identity rather than by individual contribution to society and our nation. That is un-American when used to exclude a conservative from a job or an education, and it is un-American when used to exclude a transgender person from military service. It is to assert that identity is destiny.
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