Transgender Ban From The Military Is How 45 Plays President
There are some “conservatives” who measure success merely by the volume of “liberal tears” spilled on Twitter, and by that measure Trump is a smashing success, but infuriating opponents while alienating the persuadable middle is a poor way to build a political coalition or to prevail in public debate.
With a few magical tweets, not only did your President reportedly blindside members of the military (he tweeted while Secretary of Defense James Mattis was on vacation) with the timing and nature of his announcement, he ignited yet another round of public fury. He virtually guaranteed that the next Democratic president would immediately reverse his policy, and he made any congressional debate that much more challenging.
Ladies and gentlemen. This is your President. He’s not going to “pivot” or become more presidential. This is it.
But first, this fixation with transgender people serving in the military is just the circular logic of bigots. It goes like this: Perpetually and constantly proclaim that trans people are defective and that they are going against God’s plan. Watch the attempted suicides goes up and then point to the attempted suicides as reasoning why they can not be allowed in the military. Never fails.
18 countries, including Israel, Germany, and the U.K. are open to transgender soldiers. Their own studies and an independent report by Rand indicated no drop off in readiness or cohesion. What gives?
Politics. According to Politico, this was done to get conservative members of Congress on board to pass a budget resolution to continue funding the government. Gender transition surgery exclusion was a bill that recently got killed in the House, and was specific to soldiers serving. Republicans didn’t have the votes to continue funding the government after they are scheduled to come back from recess, so Trump took this action to get the conservatives who felt alienated on board. The overall spend for the surgery is something like $7 million out of a $600 billion defense budget. The DOD spends five times more than that on Viagra alone.
Now a competent President, after permitting his Secretary of Defense to comprehensively study the issue of transgender service, would draft a carefully written, factually supported statement describing in detail the military justifications for the transgender ban. Then, with the full, prepared backing of the Pentagon, he’d approach a Republican-controlled Congress and write his policy into law — creating a far more permanent standard that couldn’t be quickly reversed by the next administration. But that’s hard work. It’s much easier just to tweet.
Individual assessments rather than group exclusion with everyone held to the same standards is obvious here. If a transgendered trooper meets those standards, why block that individual from serving their country? Also, a blanket ban for it includes non-combat roles. What is the rationale behind that?
Soldiers follow orders. They work toward a common objective, and they don’t have to admire or even like the person fighting next to them. If a citizen is qualified, based on the military’s own standards, they should not be excluded from service.
This was an ideological action to get a few members in Congress to not embarrass him on the continuation, and the messaging to the public about the enormous spend on budget is to satiate those in the culture trenches who want red meat. At the end of the day, he wanted money to build his wall, and the only way to get there was to do this.
Checks and Balances Imperil Transgender Ban
It looks like pushback within the executive branch is already happening, and there would most certainly be challenges in court. Julie Hirschfield Davis and Helene Cooper report that the military’s transgender ban will not be put in place, according to the country’s highest military officer, clarifying some of the confusion surrounding 45’s announcement on Twitter that transgender people would no longer be accepted or allowed in the military.
In a letter to the military service chiefs, Gen. Joseph Dunford, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said that the policy on who is allowed to serve will not change until the White House sends the Defense Department a rules change and the secretary of defense issues new guidelines.
“In the meantime, we will continue to treat all of our personnel with respect,” General Dunford said in the letter, first reported by Reuters. “As importantly, given the current fight and the challenges we face, we will all remain focused on accomplishing our assigned missions.”
Cristian Andre Farias writes how any attempt by the Trump administration to implement such a wholesale transgender ban wouldn’t survive a legal challenge. There are already thousands of trans servicemembers serving openly. They are serving the country honorably as mechanics, nurses, cooks, chaplains, accountants, or in any of the hundreds of jobs available to those in the service. To discharge them all just because of their transgender status would be a textbook example of a bare desire to harm a specific group.