Transgenders in the Military- A Veteran’s Perspective
This article is my personal view and opinion of the heated debate regarding the permission of transgenders to serve in the US military. These are just my views and not the views of my family, friends, employer, supervisors, acquaintances or other persons that may know me or of me.
My position on this issue is that transgenders (before their gender reassignment surgeries) should not be allowed to serve in the US military. I will address my reasons by covering three aspects: 1) the acknowledgement that the US military is not an equal opportunity employer, 2) the returns on investments of the military branches if transgenders are allowed to serve, and 3) the potential implications related to the healthcare and other veterans benefits from the US Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) after the completion of military service and discharges.
I think that covering these three points will shed some light on why I reached my conclusion. Before I begin to discuss the points, I’ll digress for a bit and cover my background and why I think that I deserve to have an opinion on this subject. I think that understanding one’s history and experiences may clear up any confusion.
In short, I served in the US military for 9 years on active duty at various operating forces and headquarters establishments. After my discharge I continued supporting the US military as a defense contractor at the Pentagon and two years later became a civil servant employed by the US Department of Defense (DOD) in the Washington, DC metropolitan area, again working directly with and for the US military. My circumstances have allowed me to witness and experience the US military from three positions.
Is the US military an equal opportunity employer? Is it allowed to discriminate? The simple answer is that the US military constantly discriminates on whom it grants the opportunity to join its ranks. They won’t discriminate based on sex, religion, race, background, etc., but they will discriminate if there’s something wrong with a person – physically or psychologically. In other words, if a person’s “hardware” or “software” aren’t adequate then that person will not be allowed to serve. Let’s elaborate for a bit.
On the hardware side, if a person has flat feet, asthma, extra fingers, poor eyesight, can only get around in a wheelchair, and/or other physical issues, then that person will not be allowed to join.
On the software side, if a person has anxiety, depression, schizophrenia, hyperactivity disorder, paranoia, and/or other mental handicaps, then again, the person is ineligible to join.
In keeping with the computer terminology, I view a transgender person like a Dell laptop running macOS – the hardware and software are incompatible. The system may work but it would always crash and the users would never receive optimal performance and results. Do we want our service members to crash and not perform to their fullest potential? The US military is not an environment where we want unstable machines.
As mentioned earlier, additional limbs, tumors and growths disqualify a person from joining. A female with male genitalia and an Adam’s apple falls under that category. So does a male with breasts and ovaries. From a simple medical position, transgenders aren’t any more discriminated against than other folks with other conditions and disorders.
My second point is from a financial and intent perspective. The US Department of Defense and its military branches have one mission: to train men and women to fight wars to keep the country safe from domestic and foreign enemies.
In other words, Americans join the military to become war fighters ready to deploy at a moment’s notice. The military services invest hundreds of thousands of dollars on young high school graduates converting them into lethal warriors. Security clearance investigations, basic training, weapons training, martial arts training, technical schools, language training, flight training, and other conventional and unconventional schools cost the American public millions of dollars yearly.
A transgender would receive all this specialized training but never actually be a deployable service member. Rather they would always stay in the rear echelons and go through hormonal treatments, pre-operation consultations, psychological consultations, multiple surgeries, post-surgery recovery periods and other medical procedures to ensure that their software and hardware get re-calibrated. They would serve their four years and not deploy or participate in any mission or operation.
Where’s the DOD’s return on investment? How can we be accountable to the taxpayers if their taxes aren’t going to benefit our national security?
The third point is post military service. Gender conversion surgeries are expensive and high-risk. Military doctors don’t have the training and experience handling these complex and risky surgeries so the chances that these surgeries will not go perfect are extremely high.
In today’s environment, all injuries and long-term sicknesses that service members incur while on active duty are considered service-connected conditions which qualify them to receive tax-free monetary compensations from the VA.
With the exceptionally high chances of these surgeries going awry, these folks would be considered disabled veterans for life. A permanent/total disabled vet gets slightly over $3k per month from the VA – tax free. In addition, for conditions related to reproductive organs the VA also grants special monthly compensations.
So, from the VA’s stand point, they would be paying them roughly $40K per year tax-free (adjusted yearly with inflation and costs of living) and would have to continue dealing with any side-effects and other treatments required to keep these veterans stable. Considering the four years service obligation, these 22 year old veterans would be banking that money for quite a long time; using a modest 2% increase rate (the average for the past 18 years) for 60 years, the total compensation would add up to over $4.5M.
Additionally, just as those in the military, at this time the VA doctors don’t have the experience or training dealing with these situations since they have never had to in the past. The VA is already under a lot of pressure and scrutiny from both Congress and the public – they don’t need any additional problems.
To summarize, if transgenders are allowed to serve, they would serve four years, receive hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of training and benefits, wouldn’t actually use any of that training or perform their primary roles of war fighters, and then be entitled to additional VA compensations and benefits for the rest of their lives – all coming out of the taxpayers’ pockets.
I don’t want to end this writing without providing a potential solution. I’m sure some would argue that all Americans deserve a chance to serve their country, and I couldn’t agree more. However, just like those getting around in wheel chairs or having flat feet, there are other methods of serving the country without becoming a service member.
Unlike the military, the rest of the federal government is an equal opportunity employer. If they really wish to serve their country, they can easily become either defense contractors or civil servants and still get to work for and around service members.
Many desk jobs that were once performed by military members have been getting civilianized and are now performed by either contractors or civilians. In addition to becoming civil servants or government contractors, AmeriCorps and Peace Corps also offer opportunities for Americans to volunteer and serve their country.
And just like military service, these volunteer services will also entitle them to preferential hiring benefits if they ever apply for federal jobs. These scenarios are very possible and plausible. If these patriots really intend to serve, then these scenarios would fulfill their desire to serve the nation without putting them through all the hardships, stressors and risks of military life and the risks of untrained military doctors performing these risky surgeries.
I will end this article by redirecting your attention to the beginning. I wrote that this is my position on pre-op transgenders. I think that transgenders that have already gone through all the surgeries and have been stable for several years in their new bodies should be afforded the opportunities to serve if they wish. In those instances, the DOD and VA wouldn’t assume the liabilities of the risky surgeries, the public wouldn’t have to foot the bills, and these folks would be productive, contributing and deployable members to their units and field commanders.