There has been a lot of mass hysteria from the Left over President Trump's decision on Tuesday to reinstate the ban on transgender individuals serving in the military. Naturally, such emotion-driven hysteria has produced a lot of myths about the effects of this ban.
Here are six myths about transgender individuals serving in the military.
1. You have a right to serve in the military. As David French points out, the driving fallacy behind this belief is that serving in the military is the equivalent of "private employment" and "individual empowerment." It's not:
The military is different. You’re trying to forge men into a team, place them into the most stressful situations humanity has ever seen, and get them to perform under pressure. Oh, and in total war you need numbers. Lots of numbers — but without fracturing unit cohesion, coddling weakness, or taking on unacceptable risks.
So, here’s what you do — you make group decisions. Do people with certain kinds of criminal backgrounds tend to be more trouble than they’re worth? They’re out. How about folks with medical conditions that have a tendency to flare up in the field. They’re out also. It’s foolish to create a force that contains numbers of people who are disproportionately likely to have substantial problems. Increased injuries lead to manpower shortages in the field. Prolonged absences create training gaps. Physical weakness leads to poor performance.
Additionally, as Ben Shapiro pointed out on his Wednesday podcast, the military won't let you serve if you're so much as flat-footed. There is no inherent right to serve in the military.
2. Transgenderism is not a mental illness. The divide over this issue can be drilled down to whether or not one agrees with the premise that transgenderism connotes mental illness. The facts suggest that it is, as the medical term for transgenderism is gender dysphoria, per Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-III). It was known as gender identity disorder prior to 2013.
Here are some statistics about transgenders, via Pardes Seleh:
Transgendered people are among the most susceptible to suicide in the country. A 2011 survey by the National Transgender Discrimination Survey (NTDS) found 41% of transgender people had attempted suicide in the U.S., compared with the mere 4.6% average national attempted suicide rate. A survey by the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America found 30% of U.S. veterans have considered suicide, and 45% said they know an Iraq or Afghanistan veteran who has attempted suicide.
Transgender veterans are found to have the highest rates of mental health problems in the U.S., data show. A 2016 study found 90% of military members who identify as transgender were diagnosed with at least one mental health disorder, and almost 50% were hospitalized after attempting or considering suicide.
With that in mind ...
3. The ban will endanger national security. Michael Bloomberg made that argument in a column against the ban, stating: "Any military's survival — and by extension any nation's — depends on its ability to draw on the talents of the widest possible population. Denying the U.S. military this ability undermines U.S. national security."
James Hamblin of The Atlantic made a similar argument, writing: "Trump's ruling will leave many talented Americans ineligible for service. Others will opt to serve and deny their own gender identities, an unhealthy situation that will carry its own medical costs."
First, Hamblin's argument that denying gender identity is "an unhealthy situation" is false, as per Ryan Anderson, "people who have had transition surgery are 19 times more likely than average to die by suicide." Second, military members disagree; James Barrett pointed out that only 12% of military personnel viewed allowing transgenders to serve in the military as "helpful" to the military while 41% found it "hurtful."
To understand why, read this from Iraq War veteran and amputee J.R. Salzman explaining the grueling nature of war:
"Everyday was Groundhog Day. Wake up and do the same patrols, the same shifts, every single day. It was so damn hot. 150° in the gun trucks," he wrote. "Tracer fire would go overhead occasionally at night. IED's on the road were a daily threat. We got resupplied food every 8 days."
"The stress of being out there and doing the same job every single day eats away at you. The younger guys had problems with that overtime," continued Salzman. "Any tiny little personal issue they had suddenly became a mountain. And that shit came out on that fire base. And they snapped mentally. ... Guys would literally snap over a dear John letter. Their personal issues came out and they were instantly combat ineffective."
Salzman argued that the reality of such harsh circumstances of war make it no place for those confused about their gender.
"Now take someone confused about whether they are a man/woman. Take those psychological and emotional issues and put them in that environment," he said. "Take someone who is right off the bat not uniform or part of the same team. Give them special treatment because of their identity."
"Take that person, put them in that stressful war environment and watch what happens. It's a f***ticking time bomb," Salzman pointedly added.
When you take into consideration the fact that allowing transgender individuals to serve in the military also raises issues involving bathrooms, readiness standards and religious freedom, it's easy to see why only 12% of military personnel view it as "helpful."
4. The ban is discriminatory. Those in favor of the ban would likely compare it to banning people of color and gays from the military. Both analogies fall flat, as race and sexual preference are not mental illnesses that can be detrimental to military readiness or force women to shower with men.
5. The costs are minimal. Those against the ban have zeroed in on Trump's justification for the ban that it would cause "tremendous medical costs" and state that the costs are actually minimal as the total costs would range from $2.4 million to $8.4 million, which is "0.005% to 0.017% of all Department of Defense health care spending," per Axios.
This argument ignores the fact that the 10-year medical costs associated with transgender individuals are around $3-4 billion as well as the fact that sex change surgeries have proven to be ineffective at curbing the mental health issues behind gender dysphoria. That's $3-4 billion over a 10 year period that would have been diverted from other worthwhile medical causes for military personnel and veterans, especially in light of the military being whacked by Barack Obama's cuts and the myriad issues plaguing the Department of Veteran's Affairs.
6. The ban diminishes the patriotism of transgender individuals. Shapiro said on his podcast that being in favor of the ban should not be viewed as demeaning toward transgender individuals who were brave enough to want to serve the country.
"That's an amazing thing and good for them," said Shapiro. "They're making a sacrifice that I was not willing to make, so I have nothing but praise for them."
"But that does not mean that the Army, that the military, has a responsibility to take in people who it thinks are going to harm unit cohesion, destroy the ability of people to get along in small areas under lots of pressure, and the ability of the military to actually take a look at the mental status of people who are attempting to enter."