Trans and the Military

Well, Trump has made his declaration, that Trans people are to be forbidden from serving in the military.

Okay, look, I get it.  Sometimes the “wiring” doesn’t match the “plumbing” someone is born with.

I get it.

There are hundreds to thousands of genes involved in the determining of the sex of an individual, any of which can express “incorrectly” during development making “XX = female and XY = male” not an absolute determinant.  One or more genes “turned off” when they should be turned on or “turned on” or vice versa can complicate matters. People using that simplistic chromosome argument as an argument against someone being trans are like folk using the “solar system” model of atoms as the be-all and end-all of science.  It’s close enough for a middle school science class but the reality is more complicated.

I get it.

Also, the wiring in many ways more determines ones identity, ones “personhood” than the plumbing.  Back between the time I left the Air Force and the time I entered college I worked temp jobs.  One of my co-workers had lost a great deal of memory from an accident.  And this person was in many ways a completely different person from the individual before-accident.  A lot of the memories and experiences that went into the forming of their personality were gone.  And the personal characteristics that grew up as a result of those things were likely gone.  And since sexuality is so big a part of a person’s identity someone might reasonably object to being turned into someone else.

I get it.

That’s even leaving aside the idea that attempts to “fix” the wiring have generally not worked well.

That said, sometimes the plumbing matters.  And sometimes the dichotomy between the plumbing and wiring is a real issue.

There are several issues that one has to deal with on the issue of trans people in the military.

Being trans is a medical issue.  It’s not a matter of being “at fault”.  Being trans doesn’t make someone a bad person.  It’s a medical matter.

However, there are a great many medical matters that disqualify one for military service which aren’t a matter of “fault”.  I passed my induction physical back in ’81.  However a number of things I have now, had I had them now, would have disqualified me:  my arches and my knees in particular.  But there are plenty others as well.  The simple truth is, military operations are extremely physically demanding.  Even folk who aren’t in combat arms…well, history has shown that can be naively optimistic.  Anyone might end up on the sharp end with not just their own lives but the lives of those around them depending on them keeping up and doing their job.  And this is often at the end of long supply lines with limited logistics.

That means, the hormone therapy that transgender folk (example for MtF) is either not going to be available or is going to add to the logistics load.  And by “add to the load” we mean “trade off something else not being available for this”.  How many units of blood for treating wounded soldiers are you willing to leave behind so that a transgender can have his or her hormone treatments?  How many Motrin for that matter?

And if the hormones are not made available, how many discrimination lawsuits are we going to have?

And what about transition surgery?  Is the military going to be required to provide that?  Apparently, the courts have decided, in the case of Chelsea Manning a prisoner had to be given the transition surgery.  This leads to some questions:

  • Where is the budget for transition surgery for military personnel to come from?
  • How long is a service member out of action related to that surgery?
  • We already have people joining the military for education benefits who then balk at fulfilling the large print on their enlistment contracts (Hint:  first and foremost purpose of joining the military is to fight America’s enemies–everything else is a distant second to that purpose).  These people then balk and become “conscientious objectors” when ordered to deploy.  How long before the same thing happens with transgender folk joining the military just to get their transition surgery paid for?  Do you really want to try to claim that they are such angels that this would never occur to them?  I’m not going to claim that transgender folk are any worse than anyone else.  But I’m not going to let you get away with trying to claim they are better either.  They’re people–good, bad, or indifferent.

The purpose of the military is not to serve as a laboratory for social justice.  It’s to fight and defeat America’s enemies.  Everything else is a distant second to that purpose (see “purpose of joining the military” above).  As thing stand now, with the medical technology we have now, having transgender people serve looks to be detrimental to that end.

There is no “right” to serve in the military.  People are turned away all the time for medical conditions that interfere with their ability to perform duties they might be called upon to fulfill or which add to the difficulties of managing and supplying a warfighting force.  If one is not able to serve in the military there are other ways one can serve the country if that truly is ones motivation.  The military can always use support from the civilian sector.

But if your motivation is anything other than the best needs of the military and the nation it serves, then the military is the last place you should be.

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28 thoughts on “Trans and the Military”

  1. That’s even leaving aside the idea that attempts to “fix” the wiring have generally not worked well

    I am inclined to believe that is more trans propaganda than fact. I recall one article that said 80% of people who claim they are trans when young come to identify as their biological sex by adulthood. That doesn’t say to me that adjusting “the wiring” doesn’t work well.

    Meanwhile, the sky-high suicide rates for people who say they are trans remains the same or higher after transition, which seems like much stronger evidence that it is changing “the plumbing” that doesn’t work out well.

    Furthermore, making oneself irrevocably trans leaves the person with extremely limited romantic prospects: the fact is that the vast majority of people, gay or straight, are not interested in trans people. Gay men prefer biological men and straight men prefer biological women. Same, correspondingly, for women. A number of articles and videos have been created recently on the romantic woes of transitioned people, and those put into early hormone therapy and left
    sterile, with little sex drive and
    stunted primary sexual characteristics. Medical and chemical treatments isolate an already mentally fragile person.

    The entire trans movement thing is reckless ideologically driven medical and psychological experimentation with no science behind it at all.

    Those other chromosomes and genes you mentioned are only speculative — there is no DANA test you can get to identify yourself as trans. The only qualification to be trans is to self-identity as such, which plants it squarely in the category of a mental condition.

    1. Kids thinking their trans is a different issue (your daughter says she’s a boy? Mine says she’s a dinosaur). As is the current fad among certain elements of claiming every sexuality under the sun. Despite the hype in the news, there are actually diagnostic criteria for a person being transgender and it is very rare. And it can really only be diagnosed once a person is fully mature because the normal…confusion that can come about during the hormonal changes at puberty can both mask and mimic it. Yeah, I went through a period of imagining myself as a woman. Another period of being attracted to anything with an appropriate (and some inappropriate) orifice. Both of those settled out as I reached adulthood.

      So the current fad is not what I’m talking about. But once you sift out that there is a small, apparently irreducible, level that remains there.

      “There is no DANA test…” Of course not because I didn’t say the genes weren’t there. But a whole number of issues derive from errors not in the genes themselves but in when and how they express. The gene is there it’s just “turned off” when it should be turned on or vice versa. This is a known issue. Here’s just one example out of many: http://www.mrc-mbu.cam.ac.uk/projects/2307/defects-mitochondrial-gene-expression-human-disease It would be truly remarkable for the X and Y chromosomes to be immune to this. DNA tests also are quite limited in what they can reveal. How many things are there for which we know genetic causes but for which there isn’t a DNA test? Something being genetic is one thing. Being able to identify the specific genetic marker in a test is something else entirely.

      As for being a mental condition, well, although not officially diagnosed (and according to a friend who is, I don’t want to be if I can help it) I am probably a high functioning autistic. Folk I know are officially diagnosed with that. Definitely a mental condition. It also appears to have a genetic component. The two are not mutually contradictory. And “mental condition” also doesn’t mean that it’s “fixable” (even if we consider it as something that needs to be “fixed”). You want to try and “fix” my mental processes and remake them into more conventional lines? We’re going to have words and they’re likely to start with “knuckle sandwich”. Because if you did, I wouldn’t be me any more. I’d be somebody else.

      The thing is there are no good options for people who are transgender (as opposed to trans fanbois playing at it). It sucks to be them. And if they want to try to resolve the disconnect through making their physical body fit better their mental image of themselves in an effort to better function in society, more power to them. No, they’re not going to “fit in” as well as you (or for that matter as well as I–who don’t fit in much at all) do. But that option is off the table in the first place. They don’t already.

      OTOH, the one thing I do object to, most strongly, is doing anything irrevocable to minor children. Once they’re an adult, that’s a different matter. Even there, they’d probably be advised to wait until at least their mid 20’s when the brain has fully matured. But definitely not minor children.

      1. Okay, here’s my entire premise on Trans in the Military. IDC how anyone chooses to live their lives or how they self define. It really makes NO difference to me. If a trans person “really” says, I want to join the military bc I love my country & want to serve & protect mine & every Americans rights to life, liberty & the pursuit of happiness I’d say go right ahead, so long as one of two things had occurred. The 1st being, they had already had the appropriate reassignment surgery & already recovered & were good with foregoing any & all hormone therapies or other meds (unless purchased themselves) until their enlistment was up or that they agree to forego any reassignment surgery until after their enlistment was up. If their true motive from the start is to serve then these 2 options should be no problem at all. The purpose of all Military Branches is not for any reason whatsoever except to serve, fight & protect this nation. If anyone attempts to sign up for any other reason besides that then they have “0” reason to be in the Military at all. Thats just me though.

        1. The question I have (and it’s a real question–I don’t know the answer) is what happens if someone who has transitioned does stop the hormone maintenance therapy? How does that affect their ability to function in a combat environment? That really is the bottom line right there.

      2. That last paragraph; about doing things to children… that’s one of those things that infuriates me.

        I really don’t care what adults do (although, I do expect adults to take responsibility for their actions, and accept all consequences, good and bad. That’s just part of being a grown up. )

        But, allowing children-or, worse, encouraging them- to engage in that sort of thing is child abuse. I’ve read that those hormone treatments can cause all sorts of damage to young people; couple that with a major, body changing surgery, and it strikes me that the result is going to be a child who grows into a very inhumanely, and unnecessarily, tortured individual.

        As a general rule, I’m inclined to let parents raise their kids as they see fit, and I typically disapprove of government meddling in child rearing and education choices. But, just as society frowns upon parents who kill their children, or burn them with cigarettes, or keep them locked in closets- and such parents are punished accordingly- so, too, should such extreme body modification be disallowed in regard to minors. Once the kid is 18, he can do what he wants; that’s his business. (But, again, I expect him to take responsibility for his decisions) My personal feelings on the matter are irrelevant.

  2. Oh, good. Sometimes I wonder if I’m the only one who understands the purpose of our military. Glad to see that someone else gets it.

    I knew several folks who graduated from high school in the spring of ’01, and went directly into military service, as a means to aquire a college education. Every single one of them were shocked and dismayed when they were deployed to a war zone, shortly thereafter. There were cries of “it’s not fair!!!”

    Um, yes… it’s absolutely fair; you signed up for it.

    As to the whole “transgender in the military” thing; whatever side of the general trans issue you stand, as far as the military goes, this is a great and logical argument.

    Really, if you are not whole, both physically and mentally, and if the plumbing and wiring don’t match, the military is not for you. There are plenty of ways to serve on the home front, that are just as valuable.

    1. In the military, the goal in any conflict or encounter is to WIN. To do that the military needs every soldier, sailor, airman, marine, or other service-member to be in top shape, well-informed and trained, and ready to follow orders. The mission of the military is to kill people and break things–that’s it. No social-science experiments, no politically-motivated feel-good tasks, nothing of that sort. Our taxes pay for a military that can defeat our enemies; we can accept no less. The experiment of having women in the front lines was bad enough, and the real costs of it are not part of public knowledge; this whole new Obama directive about transgender people at one stroke gives the military dozens of tasks for which it is not suited, for which it has not the time, nor the money, nor the facilities, nor the work-spaces, to accomplish. Our military persons need to be able to fight, and whatever interferes with that must be avoided or jettisoned. President Trump is exactly correct; and I note that he cites and has consulted with high military officials to guide and justify his decision. I say, Thank God!

  3. The bigger issue, to me, is that many of these folks are, to put it bluntly, nuts. Many are self-absorbed to a degree not usually seen. They are quite likely to screw up unit cohesion. Trump was exactly right, if typically undiplomatic.

    You called it very well when you pointed out that resources devoted to propping up neurotics are resources denied to the mission.

  4. My family has a long history of serving in the military, with members fighting in most of the major wars this country has fought, including my Grandfather in WWI and my Father in WWII and Korea (he is the only one who made the military a career). When I turned 18 I wanted to keep the tradition going, but was rejected for flat feet and mild asthma. I was able to make all District several times and all Region once playing football with those issues, but the Army said no. Given these rather minor conditions disqualified me, why on Earth should someone with all the medical issues related to transitioning be allowed in?

    A bit of family history also, my Father actually wanted to be a Marine, but the Corps rejected him because he had red/green colorblindness. So as he said, he went next door and joined the Army. After Basic and OCS he joined the 1st Division in time to take part in the North Africa invasion and from there on to Sicily. While recouping in a field hospital from wounds he received during the battle of Troina, his mail caught up with him, including a letter from the Department of the Navy saying that now they would be proud to have him represent his fellow countrymen in the United States Marine Corps. Dad politely declined their kind invitation.

    1. Given these rather minor conditions

      Of course “rather minor” becomes not so minor when one is at the end of a rather tenuous logistics train, where necessary medications might or might not show up, it becomes a whole other ballgame.

      That was the point, of course. The military has to deal with, and plan for, things that folk in the civilian world generally don’t. The medical issues (looking at just those alone) of a transgender person make them a distinct liability in a military context. One doesn’t have to blame the trans person or think them “bad” for that. I don’t. But all the lack of blaming in the world doesn’t make the reality go away.

      1. In 1990 in the lead-up to Desert Storm, I was nearly done with college and was “taking a break” (maybe 10 credits left). I decided to enlist in the air force, and I could pick up those last few credits along the way. I was disqualified from all branches of the armed forces for life, because I had had nasal polyps removed twice. I was infuriated at first…but over time came to see exactly the point you are making.

        Was it fair of me to expect the military to provide medical procedures like that ad hoc? If I had it twice, chances are I would need it again (though I never did, the point still stood at that time). It also indicated a potential upper respiratory problem…and as it turned out I DO have cystic fibrosis (of an almost unheard-of mild variety).

        I maintain that it was a good call on the part of the military to not accept me. And it was an even cleaner and better call to keep trans people out. My problem did not involve lots of medicine or legal issues or upending unit morale or a number of other problems that accompany a trans person. It’s massively unfair to expect a war fighting organization to have to deal with the social and political and medical problems that come with a trans person. Period.

      2. I didn’t mean to imply otherwise. During a game if an asthma attack hit, I could either take myself to the sideline to use my inhaler or a trainer would bring it to me during a timeout. In combat that is not going to be an option, and that’s assuming the inhaler is even there. By minor I meant conditions that are fairly routine in the civilian world can still me a major issue in the military. For the much more significant medical burdens of the transgendered, it’s difficult to meet the needs even in the civilian world, much less in an FOB in Eastjesusleapastan.

        1. Oh, I figured you got it but thought I’d spell it out for the peanut gallery.

          But what puzzles me right now is why you ended up back in moderation. My settings are “first comment is in moderation then afterward you’re good” And there were no embedded links so I shouldn’t have had to approve this one.

          1. Perhaps your system senses that I am a lawyer by trade and is therefore trying to protect you from the most dangerous force on the planet.

  5. Here’s what people seemingly over-look, before one starts hormone treatment their thoughts and feelings are influenced by their natural hormones of their sex and their ability or lack thereof to reason who and what they are and are not! If they allow their imagination and feelings and the influence of others define them then anything is possible for them to become. ONCE THEY START TAKING HORMONES FOR THE OPPOSITE SEX THEY WILL CHANGE! And, what are they changing from and into? They need the hormone and an operation to change! They are admitting they were born a sex other than what they say they feel, think or believe themselves to be. Therefore, they are making a choice to change wand expecting others to pay and change to accominade their personal choice! If we do so for them and their personal choice then to be fair we must also pay for and accommodate the personal choices of everyone else without regard for any standards out side of the individual. So when I say I want what I want when and where I want it all u LGBTQ people need to get me what I want when and where I want it or shut the fuck up when you want me and others to pay for and accomindate your stupid ass bullshit choices!

    1. This too. And once they have transitioned, they still require ongoing medical support in their new position.

      Now, maybe, hell probably, the day will come when the transition can be made and stabilized without the need for ongoing medical support–gene therapy perhaps to get existing organs to produce the required hormones in the required amounts. But we are not at that day. And until then, the problems associated will negatively impact military capability which should be the only criterion for whether someone is allowed to serve or not.

  6. “Is the military going to be required to provide that?” Are they enlisting in order to get the surgery? Would it be OK if they got that before enlisting? (Probably not.)
    The main purpose of the military is to be warriors, to fight and kill the enemy. Some may have noticed that most of the time, the enemy is trying to kill us. Every warrior, in every service, has to be able and competent, physically and mentally, to go into battle, and to be a working part of the team. Everybody has to depend on, and trust, everyone else. IT’s no place for people with conflicted self-identities.

  7. My son went through the Naval academy and into flight training after that. He was medically retired from the Navy because he developed an autoimmune disease, RA. It wasn’t so much that he had RA as it was that the injections he has to take need to be refrigerated. Is that fair? Couldn’t the Navy just keep the drugs in the refrigerator for him? Apparently not.
    As for the trans, are we required to ship your hormones to Baghdad or wherever you are on this planet? And as for that creep Manning, the fact that the taxpayers of the US are paying for his surgery just makes me sick. He should have been shot.

  8. “There is no ‘right’ to military service.”

    Damn right. If there were, I’d still be in uniform, and my son would not have been thrown away like a used Kleenex after four combat tours.

    Furthermore, I am unalterably opposed to surgical genital mutilation for any purpose whatsoever. Castration does not turn a man into a woman, it turns him into a Eunuch.

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