It is indeed ironic that 69 years ago today, July 26, 1948, President Harry Truman issued Executive Order No 9981, desegregating the U.S. Military. Early this morning, during the week the Whitehouse designated, “Week for American Heroes,” President Trump appears to have reversed the policy on military Transgender service. This was done by his favorite way to communicate national policy, a series of tweets:
“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,”
This outrage comes a day after former Chairman of the Joint Chief of Staff, Admiral Mike Mullen, called on Congress to resist dictating policy to the Pentagon on how to treat Transgender troops. Little did Admiral Mullen anticipate the President would preempt the failed effort by some members of Congress to slow down the integration of Transgender service members.
The Pentagon was also obviously caught flat-footed, referring all inquiries about this change to the Whitehouse. The Department of Defense has been working diligently for months to complete the process of, not only accommodating those Transgender patriots presently serving, but also accessing new recruits. What “Generals and military experts” did the Commander and Chief consult? Apparently, not his most important expert, the Secretary of Defense and former Marine General, Jim Mattis.
Before the ban on Transgender service was lifted in 2016, Rand estimated 1,320 to 6,630 active transgender service members and another approximately 1,500 in the Reserves. These are highly trained and experienced personnel who have served honorable, and professionally, without incident. The time and expense to replace them is incalculable. These are real people who want to serve their country. As Air Force Staff Sergeant Logan Ireland eloquently states:
“For my President to deny an able bodied, fully qualified person the inherent right to raise their right hand and serve their country, potentially giving their own life for our freedoms, is doing this country an injustice. I would love for my President to meet me so I can tell him about the 15,500 honorably serving transgender military members that are fighting right now for their liberties and for their country.”
The president expressed concern about the disruption these transgender service members would cause, yet nothing could be further from the truth. What would be disruptive is removing these patriots from their positions in the military. Can you imagine how this would be carried out? Would they be required to report to their commander and be immediately removed from their unit? The impact on those serving along them would be immediate. The adverse impact on unit morale, discipline and good order should be apparent. If this could happen to Transgender personnel, what would keep this President from reversing the policy on LGB service members? And perhaps others. This is a reversal of a major personnel policy, disrespectfully done, not after a careful policy review, or even the stroke of a pen, but by a tweet. Simple put, this is discrimination.
What about the medical costs he seems to be so concerned about? Rand estimated they would be between $2.4 million and $8.4 million annually, representing a 0.04- to 0.13-percent increase in active-component health care expenditures. In terms of the Defense budget, the costs are minuscule.
So why is this happening now? If we have learned one thing about this president, and his administration, it is they are experts at diversionary tactics. In the midst of the GOP’s attempt to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, Trump is attempting to take the focus off of this important issue. He needs to rally his base and get the media to pay attention to something beside the important health care votes taking place in the Senate this week. This tweet, creating a transgender ban, is merely a distraction, deflection, and feint. Don’t be fooled. Be ever vigilant.