On Wednesday morning, President Trump announced via Twitter that transgendered individuals will no longer be allowed to serve in the military.
Before going any further, let’s acknowledge that we don’t actually know what motivated Trump’s decision here. In his tweets, he cites “tremendous medical costs and disruption” as reasons for the move. Is he really concerned about medical costs? What disruptions is he referring to?
Did he really consult with “generals and military experts” before the announcement? If so, to what degree?
Is this a blatant act of bigotry or transphobia? Or is the president just throwing tennis balls for his attack dogs in the media to chase after?
Since only a fool would take Trump at his literal word, and since we are not mind readers, let’s avoid pretending that we know what motivated Trump to make this decision.
But for the sake of argument, let’s assume that some of Trump’s generals and advisers recommended he reverse an Obama administration order to permit transgendered individuals to serve openly in the military. The order was set to go into effect in the near future. We don’t have to assume that this was at the top of Defense Secretary James Mattis’s agenda, but let’s say he and some other top advisers were on the same page.
Let’s also assume that Trump does not hate transgendered individuals or any other members of the LGBT community. He is a socially liberal guy whether Democrats can allow themselves to recognize it or not. There is no reason to believe the president has an ax to grind with the non-binary.
Lastly, let’s assume that whether or not Trump genuinely believes in what he’s just done, he is certainly looking to fill the midweek news cycle. This issue, while fascinating, is one of the least important one could come up with. Think of how tiny the portion of Americans who identify as transgendered might be. Then think of how tiny the portion of those individuals who have any desire to serve in the military might be. We’re talking about next to no one. It’s juicy, but it’s not a big deal. Like Seinfeld, this is a show about nothing.
With all that in mind, let’s broach the issue:
Should transgendered individuals be allowed to serve in the military?
Unfortunately, I cannot give an easy answer to this question.
If I were a Social Justice Warrior, I’d say yes because all people are equal and discrimination is the ultimate sin.
If I were a Social Conservative, I’d say no because transgenderism is a disorder that disqualifies transgendered individuals from being allowed to serve.
The rationale for these opposing points of view do not matter to the issue at hand. There is only one thing that matters when it comes to determining who may and who may not serve in the armed forces:
What makes the military most effective at defeating the enemy?
Social norms, whether from the ACLU’s point of view or CPAC’s, should not factor in when policies of this nature are debated. It doesn’t matter what you think is right or wrong. All that matters is winning.
It might be the case that transgendered individuals improve the effectiveness of the military. Perhaps all they have had to endure in life makes them tough as nails. Maybe their unique perspective on the world allows them to see things that others can’t.
It might be the case that transgendered individuals damage the effectiveness of the military. Perhaps all they have had to endure in life makes them unstable in battle. Maybe their unique perspective on the world prevents them from seeing things others can.
I have no idea.
If our generals and other high-ranking members of the military determine that the effect of transgendered individuals serving in the military could be defeat when victory is at hand, I would support their recommendation for the ban.
There are times in life when social norms bear some weight. But when lives and the nation’s security are on the line, they don’t. It doesn’t matter which side of the socio-political spectrum gets their feelings hurt.