Transgender Afghanistan Vet Speaks Out Against Military Ban
What makes an individual qualified enough to lay down their life for the red, white and blue? Is it the lifestyle they lead outside of the uniform? The gender they identify with? Or is it simply their willingness to do so?
These are the questions penetrating the American psyche this week after a bombshell order out of the Trump White House established a ban of all Transgender people from the military in any capacity. Essentially wiping away any progress made by the Obama administration and the Department of Defense back in 2016 when they announced for the first time they would be accepting openly Transgender applicants into the armed forces. This announcement was unexpected and took many Americans by surprise, including the estimated 15,000 Transgender men and women currently enlisted.
President Trump’s announcement via Twitter came across like a personal attack for one veteran in particular, her name is Tomi A. Hearn, well not legally but it will be soon. Tomi no longer identifies with her legal name, nor the gender she classified herself as when she served in the US Army for seven years. Her service to our country should be celebrated and her bravery honored instead she is worried that her dream of reenlisting post-transition will no longer be an option for her.
Her experience during her service can tell us a lot about the culture of military and whether US troops, as the Trump administration claims, would truly find a Transgender brother or sister in arms a distraction. Tomi knows all too well what it was like to be Trans before you could be open about it. After confiding in a friend in her unit she was outed and although it did have an effect on the group she says it was more because she acted embarrassed and didn’t stand up for herself at the time. She wasn’t comfortable with herself and even admits she would be a much better soldier today. Tomi believes her unit would have been supportive of her had she the opportunity to live as her true self and not feel ashamed.
Another vet, who wished to remain anonymous, was quick to point out that the enemy doesn’t care what gender you are or were when they are shooting at you and neither did he during his time in the military. He didn’t mind who was standing next to him as long as they had his back. Veterans were left scratching their heads after this week’s news leaving many wondering the real reason for the ban if our troops had no problem with the LGBTQ community members in their ranks.
The Trump administration cited increased healthcare costs assumed by the D.O.D. as another motivation behind turning Transgender candidates away. Although it is true the military would be taking on the bill for their treatment the amount would equate to anywhere between 0.04% to 0.13% of the annual budget. This type of spending is justifiable especially when you consider that it is estimated that triple the amount is spent on erectile dysfunction medications at the Pentagon, even more is spent on women’s prenatal care. Now this is not to say pregnant women should not be treated or men should not have access to their precious blue pill but we must call a spade, a spade.
The truth is making major policy decisions is never black and white, there will always be a gray area between fiscal and moral responsibility. The problem with the Transgender military ban is that there is something inherently cringe-worthy about it, not only was an already stigmatized group of Americans targeted this policy goes after our troops. Trump’s decision was not about healthcare, Department of Defense spending or even military focus it was party politics specifically another crack at the Obama legacy. No matter what you believe to be true about Transgender people, if you are an American you have an undeniable soft spot for anyone willing to put on a uniform – past, present or future.