I never did get around to writing about Trump’s transgender military ban. I enjoy writing about academic topics rather than topical topics, but this news is exciting to me so here it goes!
Let me start by sharing my story. I joined the Navy in September of 2011. “Don’t ask; don’t tell” was actually repealed while I was in Boot Camp. Then I separated from the service in September of 2016, shortly after then Secretary of Defense Ash Carter lifted the ban on transgender personnel.
I was honored to be a part of such progressive history. (On a side note, women were first allowed on board ships while my father was serving, so we both got to be a part of some neat history).
I was never out while I was in. In fact, I didn’t even know I was trans at the time, though I did embrace my gender fluidity from the comfort of my own home. My contract was already ending by the time transgender people were allowed in, but I thought it was pretty swell anyway. Only for the ban to be reinstated shortly after I left active duty.
And this was pretty upsetting to me. I mean I served honorably for five years and now I’ve been told by our new Commander in Chief that I’m not worthy of service?
Now I’m not going to get too deep into the reasonings for why I believe trans people should be permitted to serve, since I’m sure most people interested enough in the issue have already heard it. But since the typical arguments against trans people serving argue from a medical stance, and I served as a Hospital Corpsman, I may as well debunk a thing or two while I’m here.
Medication Dependency Myth
A common argument I’ve heard is that service-members shouldn’t be dependent on medications. While it is true that some medical dependencies can result in a discharge, I can’t tell you how many active service-members I’ve personally given ongoing medications to.
I personally was taking Prozac (for depression) and Propranolol (for anxiety and to ease my essential tremors) for the last few years that I was in. And yes, for anyone who is wondering, quitting Prozac for any length of time does result in withdrawal symptoms.
Active service-members I’ve been involved in the care of have taken blood pressure medications. Some even took hormones. Yes, even cisgendered people sometimes go through Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT). Some men don’t produce adequate testosterone and take supplements.
True, if a cisgendered service-member relies on testosterone treatment and must be deployed to a setting where hormones may not be readily available to him, he may have a bad time. But he won’t be alone. I mean how many service-members become dependent on alcohol, tobacco, caffeine, et cetera only to deploy and experience a bit of an awkward period? It happens. We’re trained to deal with it like adults.
Interestingly enough, I found out after getting out that I have (had?) a serious testosterone deficiency. If I had known this while I was still in, I could have easily received testosterone supplementation through Tricare. So please tell me, what exactly would have been the difference if I had started MtF HRT while I was serving?
Rise in Military Healthcare Costs
According to a RAND analysis employed by the DoD, allowing transgender individuals to serve would only result in a 0.04 to 0.13 percent spending increase. This is assuming a $2.4 million to $8.4 million cost associated with transition related expenditures,
For context, the military currently spends $84 million per year on Viagra. During my time in, I’ve seen active service-members and their dependents receive procedures that were technically cosmetic. They just had to come up with a reasonably compelling argument for why the procedure might produce some kind of therapeutic benefit.
But It’s a Mental Illness!
No, it’s not. See my recent post on the topic: Is Transsexuality a Mental Disorder? As a quick recap, we can’t even seem to firmly define exactly what the fuck sex or gender are. There’s a great many biological components to consider as well.
Seriously, it’s a natural phenomena. Society is the one with the mental illness. Here, I’ll prove it: can society, as a concept, join the military? No. See my point?
Aside from that, even if one could prove that transgender is a mental disorder, the military already spends hundreds of millions of dollars a year on mental health treatment. And, as I mentioned earlier, I was a part of these statistics pre-transition.
Lack of Facilities
Another argument I’ve heard is that permitting trans people to join would create a unique burden on military facilities such as barracks and bathrooms. But I don’t see any reason why trans service-members can’t just utilize the facilities that match their gender identity.
Sure, some service-members would be bound to take issue with this. For that matter, some service-members take issue with having to bunk with gays. Some don’t like having to bunk with people of different ethnicities or religions. Know how they reconcile these issues? They get the fuck over it.
Besides, if we’re really so concerned about the added costs of separate facilities, we could always take a page out of Battlestar Galactica’s book and just make everything co-ed. co-ed is the future anyway.
Now Back to the Ban of the Ban
Now that my long overdue rant is over, I’m pleased to announce that just yesterday Judge Marvin Garbis of the United States District Court for the District of Maryland ruled that the U.S. government must continue funding transgender procedures for service members.
In his order, Judge Garbis opined that the transgender service members
“demonstrated that they are already suffering harmful consequences such as the cancellation and postponements of surgeries, the stigma of being set apart as inherently unfit, facing the prospect of discharge and inability to commission as an officer, the inability to move forward with long-term medical plans, and the threat to their prospects of obtaining long-term assignments.”
Of course, other judges have also stepped up to challenge Trump’s trans ban by calling for the ban to pend formal investigation, but this was the first official ruling to finally stop the ban dead in its tracks.
And I do hope this ruling sticks. I really hope this is the last time I have to talk about this.