This article was written by Cath Kestler, a resident of Silver Creek, NY. It also appeared in the Olean Times Herald.
It all started with a tweet that was heard around the world which was followed by a flurry of whispers and the dominoes began to topple. The poorly timed tweet is just another attempt by our #DistractorInChief to get our energies and thoughts towards anything but the Russian investigation which is rapidly enveloping everyone surrounding our current Administration.
The tweet in question stated: “The United States Government will not accept or allow transgender individuals to serve in any capacity in the US military.” This confused our leaders at the Pentagon for this is how they first heard of the supposed new ‘ban’ of the time. I believe it was purposefully done in this manner to show how Trump could pound on his chest to show the power he thinks he has.
According to a recent Times article the justifications Trump is using are actually myths (lies): He is claiming that it will improve preparedness when in actuality it will leave us vulnerable; there are currently 15,000 transgendered soldiers in uniform who are 0.4% of the population serving and they are well-qualified, highly trained and very deeply committed to their service. It is supposedly the “American” thing to do; there are supposed to be no distinctions among service members—all are Americans serving. All of these fine men and women have committed their lives to serving, and money has been invested in their training. Ending their careers based on who they identify as is an appalling attack on our military and the values they hold, it is basically his bigotry shining through. Supposedly it will save money. There are absolutely ZERO facts to substantiate Trump’s claims that healthcare costs will increase to treat transgender soldiers to transition. A 2016 Rand Corporation study projected transition related healthcare makes up only 0.005 to 0.017% of the Department of Defense budget. In fact a vast amount more money is spent on supplying military personnel with Viagra. The final myth is that it preserves unit cohesion. When DADT was lifted many said it would undermine cohesion, recruitment and retention; which was proved to be dead wrong.
Many in the Pentagon fear this poorly thought out tweet will unleash a torrent of legal threats from civil liberty advocates and it sparked a huge protest at the armed services recruiting center in Times Square in Manhattan, it was a show of solidarity for those transgendered soldiers serving.
Even the Senate Armed Services Chairman, Sen. John McCain said “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.”
Imagine if you were serving overseas, putting your life on the line for your country only to turn on the TV and see your Commander-in-Chief saying you are banned from serving? During his campaign, Trump declared himself to be an ally of all gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people. His actions told a whole different story once he took office—you can research it for yourself on your search engine.
Upon hearing and seeing what was transpiring back home many transgender soldiers reported having feelings exhaustion, feelings of inadequacy and returns of downright depression seeping back into their lives; this leaves all military personnel in jeopardy by giving transgendered soldiers something extra to worry about and I lay this squarely at Trump’s doorstep—he OWNS whatever happens.
Lt. Commander Blake Dremann, a Navy supply corps officer who is transgender found out his job was in danger on CNN, he says, “he will continue to serve until the military tells him to hang up his boots.” The powers that be reported that they will not take orders by tweet and all the soldiers still have their jobs and total support.
It all boils down to this: A transgender ban would reverse former President Obama’s policy and halts years of efforts to eliminate barriers to military service based on sexual orientation or gender identity.
Just remember all of our soldiers deserve our respect and support for they provide us with the freedoms we sometimes take for granted. Always thank a veteran for their service and continue the fight here at home so they can get the proper healthcare they were not only promised, but give them their due.
Cath Kestler, resident of Silver Creek, NY