I have made no secret of my contempt for the fact that we have a President Trump and that he has come as advertised. No, worse. But in just three tweets this morning, Trump exceeded all expectations of horror.
Yes, I am referring to his announcement that transgender people will not be accepted or allowed in the US military. But it’s not just the announcement in a vacuum, cruel in and of itself. The way it was delivered was just staggering in its destructiveness and divisiveness.
And, as is pretty much always the case in the sad sack of an administration, it is completely fact-free.
Let’s break down these tweets, shall we? (Not that it should matter – Trump’s words are strategically meaningless anyway.)
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.
If anyone thinks this is about military effectiveness, I have brochures for a degree program from Trump University. This has nothing to do with that.
For the following, I refer to this report from the Rand Corporation that was commissioned by the military as part of a study on the impact of having transgender people serve.
Let’s first address the “tremendous” medical costs which would burden the military. Currently, there are as many as 6,600 transgender personnel in active service. Maybe between 55 and 270 of them need any sort of medical attention in a given year. The medical expenditures represent an increase of about, at most, 0.017% of net medical expenditures for the military. Not exactly a tremendous cost or burden.
Next, the disruption. Here’s a quote: “[E]vidence from foreign militaries and the U.S. military has indicated no significant impact on unit cohesion or operational readiness as a result of allowing transgender and gay and lesbian personnel to serve openly […]” Here’s another: “Even using the highest estimates, less than 0.1 percent of the force would seek gender transition–related treatment that would affect their ability to deploy. As a point of comparison, in the Army alone, approximately 50,000 active-component personnel were ineligible to deploy in 2015 for various legal, medical, or administrative reasons—a number amounting to around 14 percent of the active component.”
That is, negligible disruption, negligible additional medical cost. As usual, Trump is being fact-free and I even doubt that his generals are on board with this. I mean, as stated, they would now have to seek out and dismiss (dishonorably?) several thousand active service members for…being a social wedge issue.
No, the reason Trump is doing this is nakedly clear: he is sacrificing “the transgender” at the altar of his base. The base is a bit upset with Trump because of his attacks on Jeff Sessions. So he is feeding this divisive social wedge issue around which they can rally.
The repercussions of this act accordingly go far beyond the military. Civil society at large has been getting less accepting, and less hospitable to people who are different. Trump got elected by feeding on a feeling of many people that they were being put upon – and the blame always goes to those who look different. I fear the worst in the coming few years for transgender people. I especially fear for the kids – kids like my son.
It is the act of…let’s face it, a pussy. What else does one call a person who diverts attention from himself to weaker people in response to problems? Trump may be my President, but I am certainly not his constituent. Most of us are not.