President Trump reinstated the ban on transgenders serving in the U.S. military on Wednesday, pleasing cultural conservatives and infuriating Democrats, LGBT activists, and quite a few Republicans.
Trump made the announcement Wednesday morning via three 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,” stated Trump.
Family Research Council Senior Fellow Peter Sprigg says Trump made the right decision in reaction to President Obama lifting the ban in the final months of his administration.
“The Obama policy was not well-grounded. Therefore, returning to the longstanding policy that has always prevailed in our country was the right decision,” said Sprigg, who contends allowing transgender troops to serve openly would create a major distractions.
“Allowing those who identify as transgender to serve in the military would simply be a distraction from the core mission of our armed forces, which is to fight and win America’s wars. President Trump’s tweets indicated that he understands that,” said Sprigg, who sees the same motivation for Obama pushing Congress to overturn the ban on gays and lesbians serving in the military or opening combat roles to women.
“All of these are situations where military effectiveness was not the primary objective and they all fall under the category of social engineering,” said Sprigg.
And why would transgenders serving be a distraction? First, Sprigg says Obama’s lifting of the ban was never about military readiness.
“This was really driven by political correctness. It would undermine good order, morale, and discipline in the military. It would raise all kinds of issues of privacy, just as we’ve discussed in some civilian contexts,” said Sprigg.
He also says a lot of taxpayer dollars would be needed to accommodate the medical needs of people transitioning from one gender identity to another.
“We would actually be asking taxpayers to pay for gender reassignment surgery and hormone therapy for people who are already serving in the military. And, under the Obama policy, it would have eventually been for people who would choose to join the military as well,” said Sprigg.
Beyond that, Sprigg says the medical needs of such personnel would greatly limit their usefulness in overseas crises.
“Perhaps most importantly of all, these people undergoing these medical treatments have unique medical needs, which makes them non-deployable because they require specialized care that may not be available everywhere in the world where the military is deployed,” said Sprigg.
Sprigg says there is nothing new about medically excluding people from military service, so he sees the accusations of bigotry and discrimination in response to Trump’s announcement as being flawed.
“There are lots of patriotic Americans who are willing to serve their country but are not permitted to serve their country because of special medical conditions. I think those who identity as transgender as essentially no different from that category of individuals. It’s not a question of discrimination,” said Sprigg.
Trump is getting some vocal support for his decision.
“He’s doing what the vast majority of people in America want as well as military leaders,” said Rep. Vicky Hartzler, R-Missouri, who led the unsuccessful effort earlier this month to block taxpayer dollars from being spent on gender reassignment procedures and treatment. “So I’m very pleased that he listened and he acted decisively and will help restore our military’s readiness.”
Iraq War veteran J.R. Salzman offered a lengthy Twitter explanation of how combat duties broke a lot of people he served with.
“Now take someone confused about whether they are a man/woman,” wrote Salzman. “Take those psychological and emotional issues and put them in that environment. Take someone who is right off the bat not uniform or part of the same team. Give them special treatment because of their identity.
“Take that person, put them in that stressful war environment and watch what happens. It’s a f—ing ticking time bomb,” stated Salzman.
In addition to the fierce condemnation offered by Democrats and liberal activists to Trump’s reinstatement of the ban, man of the Republicans who offered a public response were also very critical. The Huffington Post compiled many of those statements.
““Any American who meets current medical and readiness standards should be allowed to continue serving. There is no reason to force service members who are able to fight, train, and deploy to leave the military — regardless of their gender identity,” said Sen. John McCain, R-Arizona.
“Americans who are qualified and can meet the standards to serve in the military should be afforded that opportunity,” said Sen. Joni Ernst, R-Iowa, an Iraq War veteran.
“I don’t think we should be discriminating against anyone. Transgender people are people, and deserve the best we can do for them,” added Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah.
Sens. Dan Sullivan, R-Alaska, and Richard Shelby, R-Alabama, also criticized the decision, as did Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, R-Florida, a former chairwoman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee.
Sprigg isn’t overly surprised at the GOP backlash.
“I think they have internalized too many of the talking points to the radical LGBT activists and are not thinking clearly enough about this topic,” said Sprigg.
But while there may be a majority of lawmakers in opposition to Trump’s decision, Sprigg says Republicans would much rather forget about it than try to reverse it.
“I sense that this is the type of issue that a lot of Republican politicians would rather not have to deal with at all. They didn’t want to have to deal with Rep. Vicky Hartzler’s amendment to prevent the spending of taxpayer money for gender reassignment surgery or hormone replacement therapy.
“But I also think they’re not going to want to deal with any effort to overturn the president’s decision,” said Sprigg.