My Turn: Trump’s position on transgender troops is a disgrace

  • President Donald Trump speaks to the media in the lobby of Trump Tower, Tuesday, Aug. 15, 2017 in New York. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais) Pablo Martinez Monsivais

For the Monitor
Published: 9/5/2017 12:14:59 AM

President Donald Trump’s decision to ban transgender people from serving in the military is a disgraceful move that reveals his prejudice and ignorance.

The president’s directive is tragically reminiscent of the objections made by those who also opposed the addition of African Americans, women, gays and lesbians to the military. Despite these objections, our army has integrated and grown stronger.

Now President Trump is mirroring the same rhetoric, arguing that transgender integration prevents unit cohesion and is too expensive. Except, transgender people already serve in the military and have proved that neither argument is true.

There are currently 15,000 transgender soldiers currently serving in the military. None of them have detracted from army readiness or unit cohesion. Instead they’ve contributed to a stronger military. One transgender Navy SEAL, Kristen Beck, was a member of the SEAL Team Six mission to take out Osama bin Laden. Her gender identity did not stop her from working with her team to complete this vital mission.

Furthermore, the price of prescriptions should never prevent a group of individuals from enlisting, especially when the cost is so minimal. The military currently spends more on Rogaine than it does on transgender-specific medications.

Even Defense Secretary Jim Mattis disagrees with this absurd policy change and has sought to delay its implementation. He has set up a study to examine the effect of transgender integration and has assured currently active transgender soldiers that their jobs are safe.

Clearly President Trump did not heed the advice of his generals because they don’t agree with this policy change. Instead he is choosing to disrupt our military to satisfy his transphobic whims.

Unfortunately, his discriminatory opinions are supported by the most far-right members of our society. Even here in New Hampshire, Gov. Chris Sununu has refused to fight for transgender people and has stood idly by while the Republican Legislature shut down debate on a bill that would have protected transgender civil liberties.

I served in the Vietnam War, and when I was fighting the last thing that I had on my mind was the gender identity of those standing beside me. The only thing I cared about was that my fellow soldiers had my back.

Anyone who wants to and is capable of serving in the military should be allowed. President Trump’s decision is a disgrace and flies in the face of the very creed that every soldier fights to protect: “All men are created equal.”

(Rep. Steve Shurtleff of Penacook serves as the House Democratic leader and represents Merrimack District 11.)

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