Yesterday, the House Armed Services Subcommittee on Military Personnel held a hearing on President Donald Trump’s transgender military ban. The hearing questioned five openly trans military members who opposed the ban and two administrative representatives who defended the ban by comparing trans identity to having a disease, according to Think Progress.
James N. Stewart, the Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness, and Vice Admiral Raquel Bono, Director of the Defense Health Agency, both defended the ban as not a ban specifically against trans people but rather a prohibition against people who have gender dysphoria, the feeling that one’s gender identity is different from the gender assigned to them at birth.
Under questioning from various Democrats, Stewart and Bono said trans people shouldn’t be allowed to serve for 12 months after starting hormone replacement therapy, but offered no rationale for why, stating only that “science is shifting” on the issue.
Stewart and Bono also implied trans people are less mentally stable because the military requires transitioning soldiers to schedule extra visits with a behavioral therapist, But a Democratic politician pointed out that since the military requires the extra visits, they shouldn’t be held against trans soldiers as proof of their instability.
Then, the administration’s representatives tried to compare trans surgical procedures to surgeries for people with a disqualifying chronic illnesses, like cancer or heart disease. Think Progress explains:
Stewart and Bono, however, attempted to double down. They claimed that the surgical procedures such a trans person would have experienced are comparable to other disqualifying surgeries, like heart surgery. In other words, they directly compared being a happy, healthy transgender person who is qualified to serve with someone who has a debilitating disease.
On its face, the administration’s justifications makes no sense. They say it’s not a ban against trans people because trans people can serve as long as they don’t have gender dysphoria or try to transition.
But this illogical “reasoning” is similar to justifications for Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell (DADT), the military’s now-defunct ban on openly gay, bi and lesbian servicemembers. When it was first instated in 1994, supporters of the policy said that openly LGB people could serve on the military as long as they didn’t openly express any same-sex attraction: Thus, DADT wasn’t a ban on gay/bi people, they said, just their behavior, which is nonsense.
If that wasn’t bad enough, when asked if a fully transitioned soldier who no longer experienced gender dysphoria could enlist, Stewart said no, proving that this isn’t really about gender dysphoria or healthcare costs at all—it’s just transphobia pure and simple.
The trans military ban affects an estimated 1,320 to 15,000 trans people currently serving in the military, making their employment uncertain.