• Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Subscribe
  • RSS

Military Ends Transgender Ban

gay-lesbian-symbols

As widely anticipated and with almost no fanfare, the Defense Department will now allow transgender individuals to serve openly.

CNN (“Pentagon ends transgender ban“):

The Pentagon said Thursday it was ending the ban on transgender people being able to serve openly in the U.S. military.

The announcement — which removes one of the last barriers to military service by any individual — was made by Defense Secretary Ash Carter, who had been studying the issue for almost a year. The decision comes as the military has witnessed major changes in the role of women and the inclusion of gays, lesbians and bisexual service members in recent years.
“The Defense Department and the military need to avail ourselves of all talent possible in order to remain what we are now — the finest fighting force the world has ever known,” Carter said Thursday at the Pentagon.
“We don’t want barriers unrelated to a person’s qualification to serve preventing us from recruiting or retaining the soldier, sailor, airman or marine who can best accomplish the mission. We have to have access to 100% of America’s population,” he added.
“Although relatively few in number, we’re talking about talented and trained Americans who are serving their country with honor and distinction,” he said. “We want to take the opportunity to retain people whose talent we’ve invested in and who’ve proven themselves.”
Carter said the decision was “a matter of principle.”
“Americans who want to serve and meet our standards should be afforded the opportunity to compete,” he said.

The logistics of this are going to be challenging, to say the least. Presumably, they can be handled.

What’s so remarkable about this to me is that the transgender issue seems to have essentially piggybacked on the gay-lesbian issue. Whereas lifting that ban was bitterly contested for a quarter century and we’re just now integrating women into the infantry, the end to transgender discrimination is happening with hardly a fight at all. Indeed, with hardly a debate at all. The Obama administration has apparently decided that it has the authority to make the change on its own and the normal political process has been all but bypassed. I’m not at all sure that’s a good thing even while I tend to agree with Carter on the merits.

Related Posts:

  • None Found

About James Joyner
James Joyner is the publisher of Outside the Beltway, an associate professor of security studies at the Marine Corps Command and Staff College, and a nonresident senior fellow at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. He earned a PhD in political science from The University of Alabama. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter.

Comments

  1. I suspect a good part of the difference is that lifting Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell required Congressional action whereas this change (or accommodation or whatever you want to call it) apparently does not.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  2. Andrew says:

    Earlier today I had a short conversation with a few veterans. Vietnam vets, nothing more recent. Frankly speaking, in between the jabs at the President, Mr. Trump, and Mrs. Clinton. They all seemed to be more inline with the idea of “Who gives a sh*t?! We all bleed red, and when bullets are flying, no one cares who you are f*cking.”

    I would not be surprised if most of the people who rabble on about this, either have never served a day in their life, or they can not simply wrap their minds around the idea that just because something is icky to them, does not mean it should keep people from serving their country willingly.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  3. Not a good idea says:

    This is an unwise change. Why should taxpayers be paying for sex change operations?

    The military’s function is to defend the country, not be a representative cross-section of society, and to spend taxpayer money wisely in the process.

    The military doesn’t hire people in wheelchairs to be in the infantry, or old men as fresh recruits. That’s because the military’s needs outweigh the importance of non-discrimination based on disability or age.

    The same factors justify not recruiting transgender applicants. It is a diversion from the military’s mission.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  4. Facebones says:

    I’m guessing that the federal DoD and Fort Bragg would trump the NC bathroom laws. And if they didn’t, does anyone think the Gov. McCrory can actually make them comply?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  5. Facebones says:

    @Not a good idea: Who said taxpayers are paying for sex change operations? And many trans people elect not to have gender reassignment surgery.

    And in what way would any trans recruit be physically unable to perform his or her duties? They aren’t unable to march or shoot or carry a rucksack.

    And he army brass don’t think it’s a distraction, and they’d know better than anyone.

    I get the strong suspicion you considered gays in the military a “distraction” as well. 50 years ago, I’d bet you’d have called women in the military a distraction. Same with african american soldiers 150 years ago.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  6. Not a good idea says:

    @Facebones:

    Maybe you should have read the news articles about this change before writing a blog comment about it. They make quite clear that taxpayers will in some cases be paying for sex change operations.

    That is foolish, and shows the lack of wisdom behind this policy change.

    The military frequently bars people for reasons that would considered discriminatory in the civilian world, like not recruiting old people or disabled (non-physically-fit) people.

    Similarly, the military has no obligation to recruit the transgendered. The military’s mission is to fight wars, not be in the vanguard of social change.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  7. michael reynolds says:

    @Not a good idea:

    Baloney.

    It’s simple. We have a job to fill. The job is private, US Army. You attract applicants, some of whom are capable of doing the job, and some of whom are not. That decision is based on rational hiring criteria, like any other job. Just as you can no longer arbitrarily advertise a job as “Men only,” you can no longer apply those crude, category distinctions here.

    Let’s say, for example, that of 100 applicants for combat duty, only 70 qualify total, and of those only 10% are women. So long as the criteria are rational and fairly-applied, I fail to see the problem. The key question is whether the criteria are rational and fairly-applied, not whether the result mirrors society.

    We had the very same objections to enlisting African-Americans. And those objections turned out to be nonsense. We had a related issue in WW2 with people of Japanese descent, but the Nisei battalion was among the most highly decorated. Then we had the issue with women. Then gays.

    Every single time we broaden the applicant field, along comes someone making the same disproven objections. And yet as we are told (correctly) we have the greatest fighting force ever. That ‘greatest fighting force ever’ contains blacks, gays and women. Now it will have a few trans people. And you know what? It will still be the greatest fighting force ever.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  8. Not a good idea says:

    The military usually does not “broaden the applicant field” when it would waste taxpayer money. That is the case here. Paying thousands of dollars for sex change operations is a foolish waste of taxpayer money. It makes no more sense than the military recruiting people with costly medical conditions.

    The military usually does not broaden the applicant field just because someone invokes the talisman of civil rights. A civilian employer must hire old people or people in wheelchairs. The military does not, and bars them from enlisting. It is right not to do so. Its purpose is to defend the country, not celebrate “inclusion” or “diversity.”

    Not recruiting transgender people is completely unlike segregation, which was rooted in irrational racism, not a cost-saving rationale. Ending segregation actually saved money in the long run and simplified things (note that contrary to what Michael suggests, the military did not ban African Americans from the military, it segregated them).

    Skin color is just skin deep, and makes no substantive difference. This is why segregation was stupid. Those objections were utterly different.

    Refusing to use taxpayer money for sex change operations, by contrast, is prudent.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  9. Electroman says:

    @Not a good idea:

    They make quite clear that taxpayers will in some cases be paying for sex change operations.

    Nope. You’re wrong. Whose sock puppet are you?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  10. The Devil is in the Details says:

    There apparently is some impact to taxpayers from this (although not that large):

    “USA Today notes that as part of the research before implementing these changes, the military did evaluate the likely impact on readiness as well as costs to the military to pay for medical treatment, based calculations of the number of likely transgender troops:

    ‘There are between 1,320 and 6,630 transgender troops in the active-duty force of 1.3 million, according to Agnes Schaefer, the lead author of a RAND Corp. study commissioned by the Pentagon on the issue. Of those troops, RAND estimates that between 30 and 140 would seek hormone treatment, and 25 to 130 would seek surgery. The estimated annual price tag: $2.4 million to $8.4 million, per year.'”

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  11. michael reynolds says:

    @Not a good idea:

    Dude, the reg calls for an 18 month period of gender stability. In other words, no, we aren’t paying for sex change operations. So, given that this seems to be your best attempt at an objection, I’ll take it that you are relieved.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  12. stonetools says:

    Thanks, Obama.
    The lame duck President strikes again. Amazing how much you can accomplish when you stop bothering to reach out to the other side ( when the other side is only concerned with our destruction).

    The Obama administration has apparently decided that it has the authority to make the change on its own and the normal political process has been all but bypassed.

    If by normal process you mean allowing the Republicans to grandstand as defender of traditional “military values” as part of any attempt to obstruct the change for no good reason, I ‘m OK with the bypass.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  13. JohnMcC says:

    The great thing about this election season and this lame duck presidency is the fireworks display of conservative heads exploding so colorfully! Sen McCain is apparently outraged and wants to have hearings. And Laura Ingraham says that transgender access to public bathrooms will mean that good real Americans will be wearing adult diapers when they leave the house. Will the impact of Sen McCain’s hearing be the Army supplying Depends to soldiers?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  14. Andy says:

    The Defense Department and the military need to avail ourselves of all talent possible in order to remain what we are now — the finest fighting force the world has ever known….We don’t want barriers unrelated to a person’s qualification to serve preventing us from recruiting or retaining the soldier, sailor, airman or marine who can best accomplish the mission. We have to have access to 100% of America’s population…

    While I agree with this decision, these statement by the secretary are factually untrue. We don’t have access to 100% of America’s population – the military is the most discriminatory “employer” in America and there are large categories of people who are legally ineligible for military service on a completely discretionary basis. Plus, once you do get in, we have the “zero defect mentality” and the “up or out” promotion system, so the claim about retainability is bunk too.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  15. PJ says:

    @JohnMcC:

    And Laura Ingraham says that transgender access to public bathrooms will mean that good real Americans will be wearing adult diapers when they leave the house.

    Senator David Vitter has introduced a bill in the Senate requiring every American to wear adult diapers and all public bathrooms to be shut down.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  16. Kylopod says:

    @michael reynolds:

    That ‘greatest fighting force ever’ contains blacks, gays and women. Now it will have a few trans people.

    Actually, it always had gay people, and it always had trans people. The only issue was whether they had the ability to acknowledge it openly.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  17. James Joyner says:

    @stonetools and @JohnMcC: : Just remember that, should President Trump become a reality, he’ll have the same authority. I prefer my major changes to come through the democratic process, not executive fiat.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  18. grumpy realist says:

    And the usual suspects over at TAC are having a cow about how this will totally destroy the US military and mass hysteria, cats and dogs living together….

    I think we should just let the South split off again, we’ll dump all the socons from the other states there, and they can live how they want.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0