Pentagon Report (2018): “In sum, although the foregoing considerations are not susceptible to quantification, undermining the clear sex-differentiated lines with respect to physical fitness; berthing, bathroom, and shower facilities; and uniform and grooming standards, which have served all branches of Service well to date, [transgender soldiers] risks unnecessarily adding to the challenges faced by leaders at all levels, potentially fraying unit cohesion, and threatening good order and discipline.”
Trump issued an executive order to ban transgenders from military service early in his presidency. The order had been immediately stopped by federal courts. Today, the Supreme Court approved the ban in a 5-4 decision. The administration asked that the courts align their judgement with the Pentagon concerning the issue. Soldiers who began transitioning in accordance with a 2016 Obama administration policy will be permitted to remain in uniform, but those who have already transitioned before attempting to join the military will now be blocked from doing so. It also prohibits soldiers from beginning any kind of gender transition effective immediately.
The high court said it wouldn’t hear expedited arguments on the case but the 5-4 decision to stay the lower courts’ injunctions is an indication of how the case will be settled in the future. Justice Ginsburg dissented on the decision, one of the 4 Supreme Court Justices to do so, despite not being seen publicly in weeks. The health of RBG is of grave national concern. It’s been reported that Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg is fighting a severe case of pneumonia following treatment for lung cancer several weeks ago. How is she making decisions while she is so sick and unable to even make it to the Supreme Court, or anywhere else for that matter?
The decision allows the Pentagon to place individuals suffering from gender dysphoria in the same category as other applicants suffering from various mental illnesses. Under current rules, anyone diagnosed with ADHD, Anxiety, or Depression for example, for the most part, may not serve in the US military (unless they have been stable without chemical or therapeutic treatment for a period ranging from 1-3 years). The military is not about fairness – it is about being able to do a job vital to the nation and its continuity. Performance is more vital in war fighting than equality and diversity.
It’s important to consider the immense power of lower court circuit judges in order to understand why this issue is even before the Supreme Court. Unelected judges have the ability to block executive branch policies across the country for no good reason, and often have their injunctions overturned. This gives the judicial branch the undemocratic power to effectively “legislate from the bench.” The ability of federal judges to issue nationwide injunctions means that activists can “shop” for a judge friendly to their politics and have a biased decision issued with national implications. Nationwide injunctions encourage judicial activism and the United States may reach a point where the government is forced to ignore more politically adversarial decisions that are made not on the basis of law but ideology. “He [the judge] made his decision, now let him enforce it!” – President Andrew Jackson
Combat readiness is the most important thing for a military to uphold. Mental health issues negatively impacts combat readiness, unit morale, and competence. Transgender individuals may have a group suicide rate as high as 40%, and with this statistic in mind, the decision to ban transgenders from military service makes more sense. It would be disastrous for deployed soldiers to lose focus on the mission because of mental health issues, such as suicidal thoughts and tendencies. War does enough to wreck a person’s mind for life – they need not go into that situation already a broken person. It’s a disaster waiting to happen.
Also consider the logistical issues. Transgender people are often on hormonal therapy, such as HRT. The US military maintains some of the most coordinated and effective supply lines in the world for America’s forward forces; however, medication is very tightly controlled on deployment. Most medications are not allowed. Personnel requiring medication are a detriment to the mission and handicap the logistical capabilities of the US military, the backbone of any army.
The US military’s decision to ban transgenders from service is certainly within their prerogative. They actively prohibit the recruitment of individuals who unfortunately suffer from a wide range of physical and mental illnesses. The decision to ban transgenders guarantees that the US military can maintain combat readiness and unit cohesion. It’s more important to win wars than it is to be diverse.