President Donald Trump’s tweets last week that transgenders would no longer be allowed in the military produced a firestorm of criticism and support – and a revival of the longstanding controversy over the role of the United States military.
Trump, in his 3-part tweet on social media July 26, gave few details about how he was going to accomplish turning around a new policy that began its debut only a year ago—but made it clear yet another path would emerge going forward.
After consultation with my Generals and military experts, please be advised that the United States Government will not accept or allow……
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 26, 2017
“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,” Trump’s tweet continued, “and cannot be burdened with the tremendous medical costs and disruption that transgender in the military would entail. Thank you.”
Almost instantaneously the president was accused of taking America back to a day in which blacks and women were discriminated against – and forgetting that the military should be an example to the rest of the culture of what integration looks like.
TRUMP DECISION SPARKS DEBATE ABOUT MILITARY
Former Secretary of Defense William Cohen came out strongly against Trump’s method of delivering the news via social media, as well as his understanding that the Defense Department had little to no chance to prepare for his announcement.
In a radio show reported in Politico, Cohen, like others, compared the transgender decision to historic race and gender decision made decades ago.
He also appeared to indicate the purpose of the U.S. military depends on the will of individual Americans.
“Let’s find out,” Cohen said. “Can we can carry out the mission that American people want?”
Mat Staver, founder and chairman of Liberty Counsel, said in announcing a new policy the president has kept a promise to return to military priorities.
“I applaud President Trump for making America safe again,” Staver said in a news release. “The military is a lethal weapon designed to protect America and our allies. It is not a social club, a social experimentation petri dish, or ClubMed.
“The duty of military officers is to appropriately lead and prepare their personnel to serve and protect, and they cannot do that when there is confusion, dysfunction, and safety issues within the barracks,” Staver continued.
SEX CHANGE PROMISE FOLLOWS ESPIONAGE CHARGES
Chelsea Manning, a former soldier by the name of Bradley Manning, objected to Trump’s announcement on the grounds the military is the place for social experiments. Manning was court-martialed in 2013 and convicted of violating the espionage act for giving classified military documents to WikiLeaks.
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) in September 2016 announced Manning ended a 5-day hunger strike following the Army’s agreement to provide gender transition surgery for the soldier who declared he was really a woman in a man’s body.
The armed forces “have always been a social experiment just as much as a fighting force,” said Manning, who was released in May 2017 after Obama commuted his 35-year prison sentence.
— Chelsea E. Manning (@xychelsea) July 26, 2017
EX-TRANSGENDER SPEAKS OUT
A 70-year-old ex-transgender author and public speaker in a July 26 op-ed for CNS news supported Trump’s decision. After living eight years as a woman, Walt Heyer said he “eventually” came to accept his birth gender.
Noting there is a 40 percent suicide rate among transgenders, a 60 percent rate of co-existing mental disorders, and other issues that come with a need for medical and emotional support, Heyer is against transgenders serving.
“Some service members will come to regret having undergone the surgery and will want to de-transition,” Heyer said. “Where will the military be then? Will the military pay for the sex change reversal procedure, too?”
With military veterans waiting for life-saving care from the Veteran’s Administration (VA), and acknowledging a huge homelessness issue among vets, Heyer said the military has no business providing its recruits with “preferential coverage for sex change procedures.”
“The military is a fighting force, not a gender clinic,” Heyer said. “Paying for transition related surgeries for military service members and their families is beyond comprehensible.
“Perhaps they have forgotten that our military was forged to be the world’s strongest fighting force, not a government-funded, politically correct, medical sex change clinic for people with gender dysphoria,” Heyer said of Congress and their vote to not block funding for transgender-related hormone therapies and sex change surgeries.
HOW THE POLICY ON TRANSGENDERS CAME ABOUT
Just over a year ago, President Obama’s Secretary of Defense, Ash Carter, announced the policy that transgendered individuals would be allowed to “openly serve” in U.S. armed forces.
The June 30, 2016 announcement was accompanied by a news release from the Defense Department outlining the policy to be phased in over a one-year period, stipulating it should be fully implemented by July 1, 2017.
Just before the July 1 deadline, however, now Secretary of Defense James Mattis, a retired Marine Corps general, announced that following a recommendation from military branches of service, there would be a delay in the policy.
Mattis’ cited a need for further examination of transgenders on the “impact to the readiness and lethality of our forces” due to such things as medical costs and troop incidents.
Amidst the news, the Rhode Island School of the Arts has announced a course which claims the transgendered community has taught the culture, “[T]he gendered body is not necessarily that with which we were born, but one that can be crafted to match the real body of our psyche, our dreams.”
— Joni B. Hannigan is an award-winning writer, editor, teacher, PR specialist, and the author of thousands of news and feature articles. She is also an accomplished photojournalist. In 2015 Joni won the Frank Burkhalter Award in Religious Newswriting at the Wilmer C. Fields Awards Competition. She is a U.S. Navy veteran. Follow her on Twitter and Facebook