Trump’s Military Transgender Ban Is Practical, Not Personal

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The very concept of individual expression is antithetical and detrimental to the success of armed forces and law enforcement.

Donald Trump’s presidency has been a triumph for many, and a tragedy for others, but for libertarians and those who value freedom over party loyalty, it represents the ultimate wild card. Not only did Trump take office with zero political experience, but he also compiled a hodgepodge of advisers and cabinet members whose distinct backgrounds made it difficult to identify the administration’s motivations and agenda. So far, he has appointed, replaced and ignored many of those members without a clear pattern or cohesive long-term objective.

Trump’s use of social media has been an especially peculiar aspect of his presidency, as he has made many important, official announcements through Twitter in his first seven months in office. On July 26, Trump broke the news to the nation (and many in his own administration) that transgender people would no longer be allowed to serve in the armed forces.

I do understand how President Trump’s already irate detractors see this policy as an example of his bigotry, but if we remove the lens of identity politics and examine the issue again, it’s clear that the policy-change is a sensible decision.

The brevity built into Twitter’s format prevented him from giving much justification for the decision, though he did mention “disruption” and “medical costs,” both of which are legitimate justifications that are difficult to refute.

Cosmetic reassignment surgeries are astronomically expensive. Additionally, the hormonal therapies that transgender people undergo for pronged periods of time are very delicate and complex. It would be counterproductive to include diabetics or people with hypothyroidism, for example. That’s why many health conditions automatically make a person ineligible for military service.

Let’s set aside the fact that the science is far from settled on how to understand trans-gendered people. The astronomically high suicide rate alone opens up countless cans of worms that are of more dire significance than the LGBTQ agenda. It would be grossly irresponsible, callous and heartless to allow a population so prone to suicide into high-stress, life-and-death combat situations.

The diversity of opinion and perspective due to culture, religion and even conflicting scientific theories make transgender people the focus of an inordinate amount of attention and controversy through no fault of their own. Nevertheless, it doesn’t behoove our military to enforce modes of thought on how their members should interact with and think about each other. Gender identity and sexual preference are personal details unrelated to the task of being a soldier, something that Bill Clinton understood when he implemented Don’t Ask Don’t Tell. 

Let me be clear: how a person perceives themselves has no bearing — negative or positive — on their worth as a human being or the respect that they deserve. This has nothing to do with that line of thinking. Rather, this is about creating favorable conditions for an effective and cohesive military force. Every branch of the armed forces, including police, rely on two specific philosophical principles that are fundamental to their success: teamwork and discipline. There is a reason such institutions require uniforms and strict personal grooming parameters. They work as members of a larger body in order to reach the objectives of the team itself, and not for personal ones.

The very concept of individual expression is antithetical and detrimental to the success of armed forces and law enforcement. The purpose of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell was to avoid discrimination, because the question of sexual orientation is unimportant and irrelevant in a military context.

If you watch a basketball team playing together during a game, you would have no way of knowing the members’ sexual orientations anymore than you would about their favorite bands — because they are wearing matching team jerseys that have nothing to do with their individual identities. It should go without saying that they do this in order to create a sense of belonging and pride between them, and to help them to work together in winning games.

We should recognize that same need for uniformity in our armed forces. It ensures their success, and their safety.

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