SCOTUS’ transgender military ban highlights America’s war with itself

supreme court
MGN Online

With a conservative Supreme Court — including 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 a 5-4 vote has revived President Trump’s discriminatory policy on transgender service members.

Last year, Trump’s ban against transgender service members was delivered in his inimitable style of communicating to the American 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,” wrote Trump. “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. Last Tuesday, Jan. 22, Trump’s Supreme Court delivered his wish in supporting the exclusion of transgender men and women.

But it is surprising that, amid several wars that need every able person who wants to serve, our transgender patriots would still be excluded. However, the Court doesn’t think so — 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.”

Since the military policy “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” (DADT) was repealed in 2010, allowing LGBTs to openly serve, unfortunately, military medical policies have continued to discriminate against our transgender population.

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.”

Trump’s ban reverts to that history of intolerance and is eerily reminiscent of the same argument used when it refused to integrate its ranks racially. Transphobia in our armed forces, like racism and sexism, 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.

The president’s binary views of gender, along with the perceived excessive cost of gender-reassignment surgery give rise to his notion that transgender healthcare is a “tremendous medical cost and disruption” to the military.  So the bias persists.

However, evidence has shown that the military spends five times more on erectile dysfunction medications such as Viagra and Cialis, than it does in providing medical services for transgender troops.

For example, in a July 2017 ad by the Family Research Council, trans activist 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?”

Four months later, the first sex 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 one percent of the military’s annual medical spending.

The Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act 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. In 2014, the Obama administration expanded protections to LGBTQ Americans, providing federal guidelines permitting transgender students to use “gender-appropriate facilities”  which aligned with their gender identity. Obama’s policy also opened the military to transgender service members.

Military readiness is not a heterosexual cisgender calling. 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 it.  

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

Rev. Irene Monroe is an African American lesbian feminist public theologian, sought-after speaker, and preacher.