The case for lifting the transgender ban in the military

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United States Defense Secretary Ash Carter told troops in Afghanistan that he was open to the idea of removing the last gender or sexually-based barriers that exist in serving in the military. However, U.S. military leaders expressed their concerns over any move to lift the ban, citing the broad consequences and impact it could have on a military unit.

The officials voiced their opinions anonymously because they were not authorized to discuss these matters publicly.

Those who oppose lifting the ban revolve their arguments on questions of where transgender troops would be housed, which bathroom they would use, and whether their presences would affect unit cohesion and effectiveness.

We’ve seen similar situations before with gender, race, and sexual orientation and with each change similar questions of housing, bathing, and unit readiness rose. And when these reforms became implemented, it did disrupt the military. Costs increased to accommodate for beds, baths and disorderly infiltrated units. But then the units got over it.

Four star Navy Admiral Michelle Howards, U.S. Army General Dennis L. Via, and Air Force Major General Patricia Rose, represent only three of the copious number of high ranking military officers who, once based on their characteristics, would not have been allowed to enlist.

It doesn’t matter what gender, race, or sexual orientation one is because that person symbolizes someone who is willing to lay their life on the line to protect the values this nation fought for. In a country that fought to be free, what could be more fundamental than this?

Studies and surveys estimate 15,000 transgender people serve on active military duty and reserves. While most serve in secret, a great number of their commanders and peers are aware of their circumstance.

Carter told troops in Afghanistan that the key question should be: “Are they going to be excellent service members? And I don’t think anything but their suitability for service should preclude them.”

If a person saves your life in combat, why does the gender of that person matter? It doesn’t because if a person possesses the courage to serve and the capabilities to serve effectively, nothing else should matter.

When Congress appealed the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy, many opponents predicted an increase in hate crimes and disharmony to units. Yet, officials from all branches report nothing remotely close to the predictions occurred.

“There were no signs of problems with unit cohesion,” said government affairs director for Human Rights Campaign David Stacy, “And we don’t think this is different in any way.”

People who are transgender shouldn’t feel that they must decide between abandoning their military career or suppressing their identities. The Washington Post reports that current and former transgender members noticed a greater degree of acceptance among the younger generation. Treatment of transgender people will only get better as older and younger generations become more accepting of each individual’s choices and characteristics.

Congress should lift the Pentagon’s ban forbidding transgender people form enlisting. Arguments that center on questions of where they will be housed and where they will bathe represent non-issues and petty points. Initially, lifting the ban may result in some disturbances within units, but time will prove that these units will function as ready and effective as any other unit.

Everybody capable of serving in the military should have the right to do so. And any person brave enough to fight on the front lines deserves the nation’s upmost respect.

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