Equality over Effectiveness in the Military

As progressives continue to push their radical agenda on America, the DoD is often shamelessly used as a conduit to unilaterally control a sizeable portion of the country. If the democratic process can’t get the votes, or just seems like too much work, why not just start with small steps and enforce your will on the military? A few years back, we saw the repeal of “Don’t ask, don’t tell”, and homosexual members were met with wide open arms. The DoD even sanctioned normally unauthorized events to celebrate this welcoming of gays. But this only got us the LGB crowd, leaving the T members in the closet. The next step in this transformation is the repeal of the transgender policy, which currently does not allow transgendered people to serve -- or at least not in the open. Last year, former Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel suggested that the ban should be “continually reviewed”, but stopped short of calling for its repeal. Then, in August 2014, a study released by the Palm Center found that DoD could "easily" lift the ban on transgender service with minimal impact, which would open the doors for the estimated 15,500 transgenders currently serving in hiding, although I personally suspect that number is vastly inflated. I would highly encourage the reader to at least scan the study, chaired by retired Major General Gale Pollock.

The study claims to provide “implementation guidance for the inclusion of openly-serving transgender personnel in the U.S. military”, yet fails to examine any of the practical impacts or justify why that is beneficial to the security of our nation. Instead of answering the obviously difficult questions about integrating transgenders into the service, the study claims that dealing with transgenders is as simple as treating them as their preferred gender, as if it were like flipping a switch -- if Jane is now a Joe, she should start taking the men's PT test and start shaving (if applicable of course). Oh, and she is now eligible for all the male-only positions. No other action required. 

Ironically, classifying a transgender as a man or woman implies that gender is binary, a concept hotly debated and mostly rejected by the transgender crowd. They would prefer to view gender as a spectrum, adding ambiguity to an already incoherent concept. "Transgender" quickly becomes an overly broad term, which could include someone who simply prefers to cross-dress, to one who has gone through multiple surgeries. How then should the military treat such a wide variety of physical attributes that could come with the transgender label? Should the military force a transgender to undertake invasive surgeries to mimic their preferred gender, or is a public declaration of their gender identity enough? Either way, the current system that sets qualifications based on sex becomes meaningless. How can one recognize on one hand that the biological differences between the genders are significant enough to warrant male-only positions, and yet then say that the differences are trivial enough that a woman who feels she is a man is suddenly qualified for such a position? Integrating this spectrum into a binary system raises more questions than answers, none of which are considered.

Perhaps the most troubling part of the study is the recommendations concerning housing and bathroom facilities. The paper advises that no regulatory changes are necessary, but that separate facilities should be available for transgenders. But a few sentences later it notes that separate facilities cannot be required because that would be discriminatory. Well, which is it? Are transgenders special enough for their own facilities or is that special treatment really discrimination? So despite the talk that transgenders are no different under the skin than their preferred gender, they are somehow uncomfortable being around other members of their "real" gender, and thus need their own space. Yet even if we give them what they want, it could be discrimination. Are these really the issues we want our leaders to be worried about on the battlefield? And what about the effect on the other troops? As those that have served know, deployments are taken very seriously and specific measures are put in place to limit distractions, such as separation of the sexes. There is absolutely no discussion of how placing a transgender would burden others who may feel uncomfortable sharing living spaces with someone of a different biological sex. Why does the right of one person to feel comfortable trump that of the rest of the group? Is it really as simple as referring to the female as a “he”?

According to Gen. Pollock, yes it is: "From a military officer perspective, we consider honor and integrity to be just essential values. But how can we say that when we’re asking these men and women to lie about who they are? That’s very comparable to the ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ piece. To me, it’s just wrong." Yes, how horrible it is for us to ask people to face reality. How ironic that he uses integrity to attempt to justify someone who denies their own gender and pretends to take on the opposite gender. Shouldn’t integrity demand that a person be honest about their biological gender? What is integrity if it is only based on feelings and not objective truth? If I suddenly thought that I was a general, would that make it true? Would telling me the truth that I am a captain ask me to lie about who I am? I think not.

But even if we were to accept the crazed idea that a transgender person has a different gender than their physical biology, and hence a medical condition, then why does this condition receive an exception when so many lesser conditions are barred from service? The military is no friend to pre-existing medical conditions -- and for good reasons. It needs to recruit the best of the best to remain effective in battle. Medical conditions are not only a liability in the field to accomplishing the mission, but also a financial liability, especially if better alternative exists. This is why the Pentagon estimates that only 30% of youths are fit to serve. If the number of transgenders is really as high as 15,500, opening the military to transgenders could suddenly be a huge financial burden on a department already struggling with budget cuts. Trangender related surgery is incredibly expensive with long recovery periods. Even at 30%, there are significantly more recruits that wouldn't bring the financial burden that a negligible portion of the popularity would bring. This is in addition to the outcry from those with lesser medical conditions who aren't able to serve. 

Serving in the armed forces is a noble and worthwhile venture. But to truly fulfill the purpose of the military – to effectively protect our nation, there must be reasonable standards for entry. Pushing a total inclusive policy by definition eradicates those standards and fills the military with less effective troops, who are not only a hazard to themselves, but also a liability for those who could otherwise be effective. From a purely valuation standpoint, transgenders bring a considerably greater cost for no obvious benefit. The only way to have the most effective force is to be honest about the suitability and impacts of each person. Of course, including transgenders in the military has never been about creating a stronger military, but as an opportunity to appeal to the equality crowd. It is nauseating that in a time of escalating global instability and rising terrorism, we are more concerned with meeting the demands of a few at the expense of an effective military. Is it really too much to ask that before you can serve you come to face the reality of your gender?