Thursday, July 27, 2017

Follow-Up to Yesterday's Post

There has been a LOT of discussion about yesterday's post regarding the "Transgender Military Ban" and some great questions have been asked of me. I've also realized that there are some cases where I either made an assumption for ease of discussion and didn't tell anyone I was assuming, or I didn't go into enough detail on a particular topic. I'll address those points here.

"Comparing being Transgender to a disease or disability is just wrong."

Take it up with the military. If eczema is enough to keep someone out of the military, then it's not difficult to see how the armed forces would view gender dysphoria as a rejectable condition.

Keep in mind that the military has been rejecting people based on physical characteristics for over 200 years. It's going to be extremely difficult to change this, and it won't happen overnight. First you have to change their minds; then you have to get them to change their regulations; then they have to change their way of doing things (that includes logistical chains).

Think the government is slow to do things? Compared to the military, the government is practically mercurial. It's very conservative, and I mean that in both the political sense and the "reluctant to change" sense.

"It seems you are acknowledging that transgendered people are permanently non-deployable. If that is true, than there is no place for them in the military, no matter if we're talking 10 years, 20, or a hundred."

I apologize for being unclear. Perhaps this will clarify things:people who are on hormone replacement therapy are permanently non-deployable given current technology. Advances in medicine, such as an implanted patch which releases hormones for several months, may make the logistical problem a non-issue in the future. 

"Why would trans people be permanently non-deployable? The only reason I could think of would be a hormone requirement, but even if that were the case not all trans people take hormones. It seems like you've conflated 'being transgender' with 'medical transitioning' in terms of assessing deployability."

Again, my apologies for being unclear. The short answer to your question is that the issue isn't being on hormones; the issue is hormone supply and its concurrent logistical hurdles. 

The (much) longer version :
If you've transitioned, you need the hormones for life. Going off them causes the body to start reverting to its prior balance (which can be difficult if you've had your gonads removed) and at the very least this causes such discomfort that the person is rendered combat-ineffective. I am not a doctor, but from discussions with trans friends and from reading on the subject this is somewhere between a bad hangover and a case of the flu. One friend says that after missing her dosage for a week she has low energy, migraines, and brain fog. 

"But Erin, soldiers get sick all the time!" That's true, but 1) they get better or they're medically DQ'd and 2) military infirmaries have a hard enough time keeping proper stocks of basic supplies. One military friend commented "I've been to remote military sites where there is no provision for hot food, toothpaste or toilet paper. Military supplies are prioritized: food, ammo, water (most of the time) and spare parts, if available. Anything extra for just one trooper/Marine means less pallet space for critical items for the entire company, platoon, or fire team." So if they can't keep morphine and anti-malarials in stock, do you think they'll be able to keep hormones that only one person needs? That's an inefficient use of money, space, shipping, etc. 

And all of this assume their hormones are in pill form. If they're injecting their hormones, now you're talking syringes and needles, their safe disposal to prevent biohazard, commander worrying that the syringes can be used for drugs, and so on. 

"But Erin! Not all transgender people go on Hormone Replacement Therapy, let alone have Sexual Reassignment Surgery!" This is also true. But think of this from the perspective of the military, which thrives on paperwork. Which is easier:
  1. Blanket-ban all transgender people
  2. Carve out exceptions which say "OK, you can be trans, but under no circumstances are you allowed to start taking hormones, let alone have surgery, or you'll be medically discharged"
I'm going to go with "blanket ban", because not only are the armed forces are already drowning in paperwork and don't want the added hassle, but also because individual exceptions are pretty much completely the opposite of how the military operates with its "These sizes must fit all" principle.

Furthermore, any organization having that much control over a soldier's body is a lawsuit/pubic relations nightmare just waiting to happen, because it's at the same level as "We'll allow you to to be the first female SEAL, but only if you sign this statement that under no circumstances will you become pregnant." The last time I checked, the military cannot FORCE women to have abortions in order to stay deployable, so neither could they forcibly prevent someone from going on HRT. 

And if they can't prevent that, then that person's career is pretty much going to be a dead-end. To quote another friend, "They'll be competing with their deployable peers for school slots, plum assignments, and promotions - so either 1) you'll have a system where transpeople will be eternally "second class soldiers" because they are prioritized lower (why send someone to Air Assault School or the War College if they are never going to be able to perform the jobs they are being trained for in those assignments?), or 2) other, not permanently non-deployable soldiers will (reasonably) resent losing out on school slots, career-enhancing assignments, and promotions for the sake of advancing the career of someone who can NEVER fully replace those they've stepped over.

If you'd like even more reading material on why this isn't hatred but is rather a logistics and combat-effectiveness concern, click through to Appendix 1 and Appendix 2 for some essays by a Marine and an Army officer who have actual experience with this. 

"Friction was the argument against gay people in the military. But it turned out that service members overwhelmingly didn't care. It looks like that's the trend with the trans people currently serving."

In all of the reading I've done, and all of my personal experience with the subject of Gays In The Military back when it was an issue in the 90s, was that the objections were overwhelmingly of the majority being afraid of the minority. From the mild "I dunno if I feel comfortable sharing a barracks/ shower/ foxhole with them" to the insulting "How can we trust them in combat?" (because, apparently, sexual preference and bravery are somehow intrinsically tied together for men) to the outright scandalous accusations that a gay serviceman would somehow rape, assault or otherwise molest his poor unsuspecting straight brothers in arms, they all came down to "Gay people will misbehave."

The argument I made yesterday about friction is the exact opposite, because I'm worried that transgender troops (the minority) will be harmed by cisgender elements (the majority). I'm not using friction as an argument to keep transgender people out; I'm saying "Let's make sure our military is a safe place for them, because if they're going to risk their lives to protect our country then the least we can do is make sure they aren't going to be harassed, beaten and killed by others in their unit."

Again, if we as a culture are still freaking out over which bathrooms transgender people can use, then we as a culture aren't ready for them on the battlefield. We have to change our culture first, and that won't happen in a year or even a few years. If it takes five, we are extremely lucky. 10 years is far more likely, and 20 years is practically a certainty.

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