About a year ago, President Obama undid over 240 years of military policy by ending the ban on openly transgender individuals entering military service. President Trump has sought to restore the military to a status of proper readiness and to opt out of this kind of social experimentation. Now there’s a move afoot in the U.S. Senate to block President Trump.
Joining Jim to discuss this issue was Elaine Donnelly. Elaine is the president of the Center for Military Readiness, an independent, nonpartisan public policy organization that specializes in military/social issues. She’s published articles on military personnel issues in many newspapers and magazines nationwide.
The Obama directive didn’t come through legislative means (Congress) and Elaine said the Center for Military Readiness predicted this back in 2010 when the administration at that time denied that the full range of LGBT law would ever become a reality. They denied there’d be same sex marriages and benefits on military bases for same-sex couples, promises about religious liberty were broken and rates of sexual assault went up.
However, there was also a legal matter. That was the idea that transgenders would not be included in military equal opportunity categories. That was reversed in 2015 when President Obama and then Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel decided that gender identity and sexual orientation would become a special protected class under equal opportunity law in the military.
When the orders came down the following year, active duty military people who said they were transgender could be open members of the military and could ask for proper treatment including surgeries. Then as of July 1 of this year the order was given that there would be open recruitment of outside transgenders to the military.
Is the military an equal opportunity employer? Elaine says it isn’t. She also noted that the Civil Rights Act and other equal opportunity laws do not apply in this case.
There are good reasons for this. The military does protect individual rights but it must be governed by different rules. For example, you can’t have labor unions in the military. In other words, the military can’t be run like a civilian occupation. Our military is an all-volunteer force although sometimes there is an obligation to serve if there is a draft, but there is no constitutional right to serve in the armed forces. The rules are different.
President Trump said during the campaign he’d eliminate political correctness in the military. That was affirmed in the Republican National Platform which was approved by the Trump campaign. So when he sent out a tweet saying he was going to end the policy regarding transgenders in the military, the media went crazy and tried to create the notion that the military was resisting the president which wasn’t true.
Then on August 25th, President Trump issued guidance, ended funding of transgender surgeries and said he wants the Pentagon to decide what to do with transgenders currently serving, which only amounts to about 250.
Trangenderism is known as ‘gender dysphoria’. It’s similar to other psychological conditions like anorexia nervosa where a person thinks they’re fat when in reality, they’re not. You don’t facilitate such individuals, you try to get competent, medical, psychological care for them.
Jim noted a story that indicated this issue could cost the military 1.3 billion dollars over a 10 year period. That’s money that would never go to new equipment, hardware, supplies, etc.
Then there’s the readiness aspect. Transgenders would need approximately 225 days before they could deploy because it involves major surgery requiring considerable recovery time. There’s also time off for psychological counseling, developing a treatment plan and time off for what’s known as ‘RLE’ or Real Life Experience.
Republican Susan Collins of Maine and Kirsten Gillibrand of New York are saying they want to make sure that no transgenders already in the military are dismissed/discharged and they also want a report before the end of the year as to how this will work. More specifically, they’re trying to put an amendment on the fiscal year 2018 National Defense Authorization Act.
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Center for Military Readiness