It seems that whatever President Donald Trump tries to do, he is met with lawsuits and opposition. This time, he’s being sued by several transgender individuals over his recent directive to halt their enrollment into the military. But what does that memorandum say that is so discouraging? According to Lambda Legal, the representative of a transgender soldier currently serving and two others who wish to enlist, Trump acted without thinking of any consequences:
This unilateral decision to exclude transgender people from the military was made without any meaningful deliberative process and was directly contrary to the considered judgment of the military. For example, President Trump failed to engage in any meaningful consultation with Secretary of Defense James N. Mattis or the other range of military officials who would ordinarily be consulted about a policy change of this nature and magnitude.
According to the memorandum, however, the president is only calling to delay President Obama’s directive to allow transgender people into the military. This extension is to provide more time to investigate any impact it may have. Trump’s memorandum states that Obama’s administration:
… dismantled the Departments’ established framework by permitting transgender individuals to serve openly in the military, authorizing the use of the Departments’ resources to fund sex-reassignment surgical procedures, and permitting accession of such individuals after July 1, 2017.
The issue isn’t about transgenders serving in the military. Anyone who wants to serve their country should be able to as long as they meet the requirements, and those requirements include a healthy mind and body. To put things into perspective; a person would not be allowed to join the military if their physical health would cause concern for safety; too much time off on leave; or expensive, long-term medical care. If that were the case, everyone would enlist just to get the free medical to take care of whatever health concerns existed. Therefore, the issue is more about the cost of gender reassignment surgeries – not the sexual or gender preference of the soldier.
The Cost is High
The RAND study grossly underestimated the cost to the military – and therefore the tax payers – of allowing the transgendered to enlist with the intention of getting sex reassignment surgery. The study did not take into account all of the recruits that would join in the next ten years, the active duty in the reserves, or a more accurate number of those who would seek to have the surgery if they did not have to pay out-of-pocket.
The cost in both dollars and time is quite high. It’s not just the surgery, as many people think. Sex reassignment is a lengthy process that requires at least a year in preparation living as the desired gender, hormone therapy (which continues for life), psychological adjustment and counseling, and months off on leave for recovery. This alone is estimated to cost nearly $2 billion in 10 years.
Obama’s directive was the first of its kind, and the military will need to make adjustments for it to work. New regulations must be put in place, which will require time and money to create and implement. Then there’s the training of personnel on how to work with transgender soldiers as they go through their sex reassignment process.
So, Trump’s extension of Obama’s directive is not an all-out ban on the LGBTQ community. It is not a homophobic move to prevent gays from enlisting and serving in our nation’s military. As he wrote in his memorandum:
In my judgment, the previous Administration failed to identify a sufficient basis to conclude that terminating the Departments’ longstanding policy and practice would not hinder military effectiveness and lethality, disrupt unit cohesion, or tax military resources, and there remain meaningful concerns that further study is needed to ensure that continued implementation of last year’s policy change would not have those negative effects.
Trump did not demand that transgender soldiers currently serving be discharged. He left that decision to Secretary of Defense Mattis, who this week decided current soldiers would continue as they are until further studies have been conducted. In the meantime, the president’s directive seeks to:
(a) maintain the currently effective policy regarding accession of transgender individuals into military service beyond January 1, 2018, until such time as the Secretary of Defense, after consulting with the Secretary of Homeland Security, provides a recommendation to the contrary that I find convincing; and
(b) halt all use of DoD or DHS resources to fund sex reassignment surgical procedures for military personnel, except to the extent necessary to protect the health of an individual who has already begun a course of treatment to reassign his or her sex.
Our president is a business man, and he is making a sound financial decision. If you owned a company, wouldn’t you want to investigate all the pros and cons before implementing a major change? Would you not hire specialists to prepare recommendations, feasibility studies, financial growth analysis, cost analysis, and so forth? Would you, for example, blindly give your employees a 200% salary raise without first making sure you could afford such generosity? Naysayers of Trump are so anxious to toss lawsuits at him they don’t bother to take into consideration the entire picture regarding his actions. The memorandum does not condemn transgender people; it seeks to determine if the country, tax payers, and military can or should afford to take on the billions of dollars of responsibility that is providing sex reassignment surgeries.
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