Is­su­ing mil­i­tary or­der via tweets

The Hamilton Spectator - - OPINION -

This ap­peared in the St. Louis Post-Dis­patch:

U.S. Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump chose the most of­fen­sive way pos­si­ble to an­nounce his de­ci­sion to ban trans­gen­der peo­ple from serv­ing in the mil­i­tary. He did it in three 140-char­ac­ter tweets, as if to sug­gest that the hon­ourable ser­vice of trans­gen­der sol­diers, sailors, air­men and marines didn’t war­rant any greater con­sid­er­a­tion.

“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. Thank you”

Trump sug­gests that the pres­ence of trans­gen­der ser­vice mem­bers some­how blocks the path to vic­tory, which is a lu­di­crous and un­founded as­ser­tion. In fact, a Rand Corp. study con­cluded the op­po­site.

Trump and read­ers of this ed­i­to­rial owe it to them­selves to view a 2015 video by the New York Times pro­fil­ing Air­man Lo­gan Ire­land, who at the time was serv­ing in Kan­da­har, Afghanistan.

The air­man’s bulging bi­ceps and rip­pling stom­ach mus­cles be­lie the no­tion that trans­gen­der sta­tus cre­ated any phys­i­cal im­ped­i­ment to Ire­land’s abil­ity to serve. Ire­land was as­signed a fe­male gen­der at birth but bears all the at­tributes of a very healthy male. Unit com­man­ders were fully aware of Ire­land’s trans­gen­der sta­tus and reg­is­tered no ob­jec­tions.

In one re­spect, Trump is cor­rect: There is a med­i­cal cost at­tached to the hor­mone in­jec­tions that help peo­ple like Ire­land main­tain their phys­i­cal at­tributes. But the cost, es­ti­mated by Rand to be about $8.4 mil­lion a year, is nei­ther pro­hib­i­tive nor out of line with other med­i­cal costs that the Pen­tagon gladly ab­sorbs to keep ser­vice mem­bers in top con­di­tion.

Ire­land, now a staff sergeant, told the Air Force Times on Wed­nes­day that he would chal­lenge the or­der in court. “You are not go­ing to deny me my right to serve my coun­try when I am fully qual­i­fied and able and will­ing to give my life.”

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