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.