Edi­to­ri­als: En­sur­ing mil­i­tary readi­ness

It’s not the mis­sion of an army to nur­ture and as­sist the sex­u­ally con­fused

The Washington Times Daily - - COMMENTARY -

The first and only mis­sion of an army is to de­fend the na­tion. The un­cer­tainty that ac­com­pa­nies the war­rior to bat­tle will not be re­lieved by sup­ply­ing ad­di­tional dis­trac­tions. That’s why Sec­re­tary of De­fense James Mat­tis must re­sist the voices urg­ing him to en­dorse a pol­icy to en­able the “trans­gen­dered” to serve openly in the U.S. armed forces. “The fog of war,” as von Clause­witz called it, will only thicken if the ranks are filled with men and women try­ing to deal with con­fu­sion over whether they’re male or fe­male.

It was Ash­ton Carter, the Obama-era sec­re­tary of de­fense who or­dered a change of pol­icy a year ago to en­able the trans­gen­dered to serve openly in all branches of the U.S. mil­i­tary es­tab­lish­ment, ef­fec­tive July 1. It’s up to Gen. Mat­tis, a tough Marine who has never flinched in the face of stand­ing up to a chal­lenge, to de­ter­mine whether that ru­inous or­der by a man who never wore the uni­form will take ef­fect.

Trans­gen­derism, or gen­der dys­pho­ria, is a psy­cho­log­i­cal mal­ady that the Amer­i­can Psy­chi­atric As­so­ci­a­tion de­fines as “a con­flict be­tween a per­son’s phys­i­cal or as­signed gen­der and the gen­der with which he/she/ they iden­tify.” Men and women suf­fer­ing the mal­ady are now dis­qual­i­fied from ser­vice, and the rea­sons are well-grounded in the re­spon­si­bil­ity for pre­serv­ing the com­bat readi­ness of the armed forces. An in­fantry­man or Marine should fo­cus his at­ten­tion on the proper use of his arms.

Re­cruit­ing the trans­gen­dered into the mil­i­tary would no doubt ob­li­gate the United States, sooner if not later, to cover the costs of gen­der re­as­sign­ment treat­ment, which of­ten in­cludes ex­pen­sive surgery and psy­cho­log­i­cal coun­sel­ing. This would nec­es­sar­ily in­ter­fere with de­ploy­a­bil­ity. This could, and no doubt would, ap­ply to mil­i­tary de­pen­dents, in­clud­ing mi­nor chil­dren, and all of it at tax­payer ex­pense. There’s noth­ing there to en­able the mil­i­tary to win a war.

This would be un­fair to the trans­gen­dered as well. A change in gen­der, or more cor­rectly “sex,” is only a tem­po­rary so­lu­tion, if that, for deeper psy­cho­log­i­cal prob­lems that would even­tu­ally sur­face later. The scarcity of ev­i­dence that gen­der re­as­sign­ment surgery is an ef­fec­tive treat­ment for the sex­u­ally con­fused is largely the rea­son why the fed­eral Cen­ters for Medi­care and Med­i­caid Ser­vices has pro­hib­ited the pro­ce­dure from na­tional in­surance cov­er­age.

The 2015 U.S. Trans­gen­der Sur­vey, the largest-ever study of gen­der dys­pho­ric adults, found that 40 per­cent of the trans­gen­dered have at­tempted sui­cide, nine times the fre­quency found in the gen­eral U.S. pop­u­la­tion. With the mil­i­tary al­ready strug­gling with an epi­demic of sol­diers tak­ing their own lives, to re­cruit the most sus­cep­ti­ble to sui­cide would be fool­ish in­deed.

Other forms of mil­i­tary dys­func­tion re­lated to sex­ual be­hav­ior are al­ready roil­ing the ranks. Tri­fling with mil­i­tary tra­di­tion is never a good idea. Since open­ing all mil­i­tary ranks to women, the num­ber of sex­ual as­saults has spiked spec­tac­u­larly. The Pen­tagon’s 2016 sex­ual as­sault re­port tab­u­lated 14,900 in­ci­dents. This sur­prises only those with scant ex­pe­ri­ence in life. Mix to­gether men and women in the prime of their youth, with hor­mones hop­ping and pop­ping like jump­ing beans, and a clois­tered nun would know what to ex­pect.

There are no doubt trans­gen­dered men and women serv­ing hon­or­ably in the ranks now. Most of them per­form duty as they should. Ev­ery ser­vice mem­ber — they were once called “sol­diers” — has a unique per­sonal life, and must deal with chal­lenges like ev­ery­one else.

Gen. Mat­tis has an op­por­tu­nity to reload com­mon sense and pre­vent the dis­rup­tive in­flu­ence of “trans­gen­derism” from wreck­ing the U.S. armed forces. This would be his most ef­fec­tive con­tri­bu­tion to com­bat readi­ness. The sex­u­ally con­fused de­serve sym­pa­thy, un­der­stand­ing and as­sis­tance, but it’s not the mis­sion of the mil­i­tary to pro­vide it.

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