Conservatives Should Oppose Trump’s Transgender Ban

To deny someone the right to serve their country in this capacity is downright despicable.

President Trump made a startling announcement Thursday morning via Twitter that transgender persons would no longer be permitted to serve in the military. He cited the “tremendous medical costs and disruption that transgender in the military would entail,” as the reasoning behind his decision. Ironically, this announcement came on the 69th anniversary of the day President Harry Truman desegregated the U.S. armed forces.

Occurring amid the heated healthcare debate, this declaration by the President has proven incredibly divisive.

Liberals are outraged by this proclamation. For many, this bill represents the perceived bigotry and discrimination that Trump has promoted since he’s entered office.

On the other side, many conservatives are championing this policy as one that will improve combat readiness and remove unnecessary distractions from our armed forces. Additionally, they believe this policy cuts out the excessive medical costs associated with transgender individuals.

However, not all conservatives are so quick to jump on the bandwagon. A statement from Senator John McCain paints the picture that the President’s tweet was premature and not at all indicative of what the Department of Defense (DOD) has done regarding this issue. Per the Senator, the DOD has been conducting a study on the impact of transgender individuals in the military on mission readiness and medical costs. By making this declaration, Mr. Trump has seemingly ignored this study and has acted without proper information about this matter. Furthermore, Senator McCain goes on to state that, “any American who wants to serve our country and is able to meet the standards should have the opportunity to do so—and should be treated as the patriots they are.”

As a conservative myself, I find Senator McCain’s stance admirable and one that all Americans should get behind.

Any patriot should admire those who dedicate themselves to serving our country regardless of their gender identity. To deny someone the right to serve their country in this capacity is downright despicable. Someone who is physically and mentally able to gain entrance into the armed forces should not be denied the opportunity to serve. Trump rejecting any of these individuals constitutes discrimination and should not be tolerated by Republicans and Democrats alike.

One of the central issues of this debate is over medical care for transgendered people. The government should not be responsible for funding transitions, but that does not provide justification for banning these individuals from serving their country. If an individual has already transitioned, then they are no longer placing a massive potential medical cost on the military and should be allowed to serve if they are medically cleared.

Another critique of transgendered service members has been their potential impact on mission readiness. Transgendered people are portrayed as a distraction in the military, however there is simply no proof to back up the claim that they are any more disrupting than ordinary service members. Regardless of gender identity, if someone is viewed to negatively affect mission readiness, they should be reassigned or decommissioned.

In the coming weeks, Mr. Trump’s declaration will mostly be viewed as a partisan issue. Nevertheless, conservatives and liberals should be able to agree that there is almost zero factual basis for this ruling and that it serves only as a gross violation of the rights of transgendered people.

Joel Gillison is a student the University of North Carolina - Chapel Hill studying public policy.

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