President Trump’s decision banning transgender troops is wrong and hurtful in many ways»
President Donald Trump went into bigoted overdrive this week, banning transgender troops on the anniversary of the military’s desegregation, and all to appease enough congressional hardliners to approve his downpayment on a border wall with Mexico.
Trump reached his impulsive decision without consulting his national security adviser, Jim Mattis. He didn’t even give the man a chance to return from vacation to deal with the announcement. No one in the White House seemed to know how to explain the decision or how the ban was to work. No Pentagon effort was in the works toward ending the year-old policy that allows transgender people to serve.
The bombshell — dropped, as usual, on Twitter — contained not a trace of humanity or respect. Worse, the entire spectacle seemed like a stupid attempt to launch a big, shining distraction on the day he knew Republican senators would blow another shot at reforming Obamacare, despite Trump’s strong-arm attempts to bully and shame them into betraying their constituents.
But here we are. Suddenly, thousands of transgender human beings sworn to protect our country and support the commander in chief are left to wonder where they’re to go from here.
What an embarrassment to the office of the presidency — a position meant to serve all Americans.
Trump’s decision is wrong and hurtful in many ways, but let’s start with his so-called reasoning: that transgender transition costs would be too high and that transgender troops would disrupt the critically important mission of protecting Americans.
President Obama ordered that medical treatment be covered for transgender troops. The cost is estimated to be about 0.04 percent to 0.13 percent of spending for troops presently serving. Had the president aimed his budgetary pen at such spending, he would have at least raised a defensible question. Defensible, but wrongheaded, as surely the United States of America can afford to support those who risk their lives to serve.
Of course, Trump went all in, shattering any prior claim from the campaign trail that he would stand by the LGBT community.
In doing so, Trump also loses the debate on whether transgender troops would erode military strength. A recent study by the RAND Corporation commissioned by the Pentagon found no impact to morale and cohesion, operational effectiveness or readiness in other countries where transgender troops are welcome.
This is no small point. Where the nation’s military is concerned, the expectation is that troops are strong and secure enough within themselves and with each other to handle the tremendous responsibility and the danger. But what have other recent reforms shown us? Women are now allowed to serve in any combat role they can prove to commanders they are capable of handling. The end of “don’t ask, don’t tell” has shown that allowing gays and lesbians to serve openly hasn’t been a problem.
So it’s not soft-headed to accept RAND’s findings, and continue with the Obama-era decision to allow transgender people to serve.
Colorado’s Republican delegation is mostly to be praised in standing against Trump’s decision. Congressmen Ken Buck and Mike Coffman objected. Sen. Cory Gardner did as well.
We’re struck by the story of Naval Petty Officer Alec Kerry, who explained that her decision to transition to Eva came in part from values taught by her commanders.
“Strangely enough, I think what the Navy taught us about integrity was what gave me the courage to come out. I had to be honest about who I was with myself and the people I served with.”
Trump should listen to Kerry. A little personal honesty on his part might finally prevent such awful embarrassments. The members of The Denver Post’s editorial board are William Dean Singleton, chairman; Mac Tully, CEO and publisher; Chuck Plunkett, editor of the editorial pages; Megan Schrader, editorial writer; and Cohen Peart, opinion editor.