Transgender ban shames Trump
Retired Sgt. Shane Ortega is the first openly transgender person to serve in the United States Army. Donald Trump is the first former reality-TV star to serve as president of the United States. Ortega risked his life in combat missions in Afghanistan and Iraq — twice as a woman and once as a man. Trump, though of the right age, declined to risk his life in combat or serve in the military at all during the Vietnam War.
Last week Trump summarily banned transgender people like Shane Ortega from serving in any way in the American military.
If you cannot already see why the president’s decision is not only hypocritical but plain wrong, let us explain. Countries around the world that espouse freedom and human rights have made room in their armed forces for gay and transgender people. Canada lifted its ban on transgender individuals in its military 25 years ago, spurred on by a court ruling. Seventeen other countries, including Britain, Australia, Germany and France, allow transgender military personnel. The United States adopted this inclusive policy in 2016.
Then came last week’s Trumpian tweet that declared America “will not accept or allow transgender individuals to serve in any capacity in the U.S. military.” Without explaining whether the ban applied only to future recruits or those already serving, Trump argued the military “cannot be burdened with the tremendous medical cost and disruption” that would accompany transgender personnel. Despite this claim, America’s military seems to be doing quite well with the estimated 1,320 to 6,630 transgender individuals in its bulging ranks of 1.3 million personnel. The amount being spent on gender reassignment treatment for transgender personnel is minuscule — $8.4 million a year at most out of a $6.6-billion military medical budget.
Meanwhile, the American military happily spends $84 million a year on Vigara and other drugs to treat erectile dysfunction.
The best explanation for Trump’s despicable act of discrimination is that he was trying to win the support of Republicans in Congress to build his wall on the Mexican-U. S. border. Some Republicans oppose spending military funds on reassignment treatment. Trump’s ban looks like an offer to scratch their backs if they’ll scratch his.
Interestingly, many Republicans, such as Senator John McCain, criticized Trump’s ban. They believe — and we agree — that if transgender individuals want to serve their country in the military and have the qualifications and ability to do so, they deserve a place. That’s how it is in Canada, and to its credit the Canadian Armed Forces used the occasion to reiterate its policy of welcoming transgender people in its ranks.
But America has stepped backwards as Trump adds transgender Americans to the Muslims and Mexicans he’s already persecuted. Commander-in-chief ? Sad!