Donald Trump recently called for the ban of Transgender participation in the United States Military. This call for a ban by President Trump was a unilateral decision, unsupported by the highest ranking military officials in the armed forces, such as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, General Joseph Dunford, and the entire Joint Chiefs of Staff. Donald Trump’s tweet read, “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. 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.”
Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, General Dunford, has given the direction that no change will be enacted in the military regarding this ban.
Even the Secretary of Defense, General Jim Mattis, was told that the decision would be made only one day prior to the announcement and while the General was on vacation. The explanations given for the ban have been heavily criticized, and related to the reasons given for the ban of women in the military and the reasons given to prolong segregation.
The “distraction” refers to those who feel uncomfortable with the thought of working with someone who is transgender, which is considered being intolerant. Although individuals with asthma are generally not allowed in the military due to being a liability in critical engagements, being transgender creates no physical liability in a critical engagement.
The second explanation given by President Trump for the ban is the “tremendous medical costs,” which has has also been heavily criticized. A report released by the Pentagon stated that the cost of Transgender participation in the military is between $2.4 and $8.4 million a year. However the United States military budget is $500 billion.
The extent that transgender participation isn’t a “tremendous” cost to the military can best be represent by relating it to Trump’s visits to his Mar A Lago hotel. The Washington Post estimated that Trump’s trips to Mar A Lago cost tax payers $2 million a trip.
There are many Republicans who find that this proposed ban by Trump shouldn’t go forward, including but not limited to senators John McCain (Ariz), Joni Ernst (Iowa), Richard Shelby (Ala), and Orrin Hatch (Utah). However, there remain some lawmakers who are in favor of banning transgender men and women from the military. Energy Secretary, Rick Perry, stated regarding the ban, “I totally support the president on his decision. The idea that the American people need to be paying for these types of operations to change your sex is not very wise from a standpoint of economics. I think the president makes some good decisions about making sure that we have a force that is capable.”
However, as was indicated above, an individual being transgender does not hinder their physical capabilities and behavior in critical engagements. If a transgender man or woman can pass the physical examination assessed by the military for entry, then their physical capabilities should cease to be in question. In terms of military health benefits, transgender individuals amount to .000016 of the military budget a year, costing less than 5 of the president’s visits to his golf club.
Senator John McCain wrote in a statement regarding the ban, “The Department of Defense has already decided to allow currently-serving transgender individuals to stay in the military, and many serving honorably today. Any American who meets current medical and readiness standards should be allowed to continue serving.”
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