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SCOTUS upholds trans military ban with 'no-blanket ban'
by Rev. Irene Monroe
2019-01-30

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With a mostly conservative Supreme Court—Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. and justices Clarence Thomas, Samuel A. Alito Jr., Neil M. Gorsuch and Brett M. Kavanaugh—it comes as no surprise that the court's five-to-four vote has revived Trump's discriminatory policy on transgender service members, while the merits of the cases will continue to be challenged in lower courts.

Last year, President Trump's ban against transgender service members was delivered in his inimitable style of communicating the order to the U.S. public in the form of a tweet:

"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," Trump tweeted. "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."

If Trump had his way, he would militarily eradicate transgender people from existence. On Jan. 22, Trump's Supreme Court delivered his wish in supporting the exclusion of transgender men and women.

But, the court doesn't think so because its Orwellian argument is that the discriminatory policy is not a "blanket ban." The policy's caveat is that it only targets some transgender individuals, not all.

The policy does allow transgender troops to serve but only if they do so in their biological sex, do not have a history or diagnosis of gender dysphoria, or can show a 36-month period of "stability" prior to military service, according to the Pentagon's rules.

Since the 2011 repeal of the military policy "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" (DADT), allowed LGBTs to openly serve, unfortunately, military medical policies continue to discriminate against our transgender population.

Evidence has shown that the military spends five times more on erectile-dysfunction medications such as Viagra and Cialis, than it does providing medical services for transgender troops, the bias persists nonetheless. The president's binary views of gender, along with the perceived excessive cost of gender-reassignment surgery, gave rise to his notion that transgender healthcare is a "tremendous medical cost and disruption" to the military.

For example, in a July 2017 ad by the Family Research Council, Chelsea Manning is pictured next to a military jet with the question, "Which one do you want our military to be spending your tax dollars on—transgender surgeries or equipment?"

In November 2017, the first gender-assignment surgery for an active service member was approved for payment. However, it must be emphasized that the medical cost for transgender troops is one-tenth of 1 percent of the military's annual medical spending.

Last year, members of the joint chiefs of staff testified before Congress on behalf of transgender troops serving openly because of no known issues resulting from their service.

Today, it is surprising to me that—amid several wars that need every able person who wants to serve—our transgender patriots would be excluded.

Back in the day, LGBT service members who served our country were either closeted about their sexual orientation or gender identity, or they were discharged under "honorable conditions" called "fraudulent enlistment."

Military readiness is not a heterosexual cisgender calling. The president's ban reverts to the military's history of intolerance eerily reminiscent of the same argument used when the military did not want to integrate its ranks racially.

Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, which bars discrimination in the workplace based on "race, color, religion, sex or national origin," but it does NOT bar discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity. However, the Obama administration expanded the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to protect LGBTQ Americans providing federal guidelines permitting transgender students to use "gender appropriate facilities" that align with their gender identity. Obama's policy also opened the military to transgender service members.

Transphobia, like racism and sexism, in our armed forces is militarily dangerous because it thwarts the necessary emotional bonding needed amongst service members in battle, and it underutilizes the needed human resources to make a democratic and robust military.

Our transgender service members are prepared to defend this country with their lives. Without them, this country would not be able to present itself as a united front on the battlefield.


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