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Point/Counterpoint: Was President Trump right to ban transgender individuals from the military?

By: Paul Rosenthal and Gordon Klingenschmitt
August 6, 2017 Updated: August 6, 2017 at 7:06 am
Caption +
Veteran Bill Thomas stands at a rally for transgender military rights, holding a sign picturing military coffins Friday, July 28, 2017, at city hall. Photo by James Wooldridge, The Gazette

Paul Rosenthal

Once again, the president has fired off a controversial set of tweets, this time attacking transgender soldiers serving their country honorably in the military.

Refreshingly, voices from the right to the left in politics resoundingly condemned Donald Trump’s statement.

Conservative U.S. Sen. Orrin Hatch stated to USA Today, “I don’t think we should be discriminating against anyone. Transgender people are people, and deserve the best we can do for them.”

Rep. Ken Buck, whose son is in the Army, told The Denver Post, “America needs a military comprised of patriots willing to sacrifice for this country … Any American who is physically and emotionally qualified should be allowed to serve.”

By the way, I say Trump made a “statement” because he hasn’t technically made a decision until a detailed order is delivered to the Department of Defense. That hasn’t been done yet. Who knows, with all the chaos in the White House and bickering between Steve Bannon and Jared Kushner, perhaps it may never come?

Transgender soldiers serve at all levels of the military and in all the branches. Estimates show they number from 1,400 to 15,000. The huge cost of mustering them out harks back to the dark days when LGBT Americans were blocked and kicked out of the military for being who they are. LGBT people always have served and will continue to serve in the military, just not openly until recently.

The estimated current cost of assisting transgender service members pales in comparison to how much the military spends on Viagra and is insignificant compared with how the president enriches himself from the public coffer on his lavish trips to Mar-a-Lago.

What is more bizarre is that Trump says he consulted the military brass before he made his decision, when Secretary of Defense James Mattis and Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Joseph Dunford say that isn’t true. In fact, according to the Hill newspaper, Commandant of the Coast Guard Adm. Paul Zukunft even personally contacted one of the 13 transgender members of his service, Lt. Taylor Miller, who is transitioning, to offer her his full support and that he would not “break faith” with her and the others.

So, the president lied about the “burden” of transgender soldiers, one of his many, many lies. The truth is that he has no understanding of the military and actively even sought not to serve, obtaining five Vietnam War draft deferments.

Soldiers are becoming more accustomed to serving with LGBT soldiers just as they have adapted over decades to the full inclusion of African-Americans and women. The tweets by Trump actually detract from unit cohesion by throwing policy and harmonization into chaos.

Furthermore, since the military is becoming the de facto diplomatic service for the U.S. due to Trump’s dismantling of the State Department, it is only fitting that it represent the diversity of the American people.

The military has come a long way very fast since the days when LGBT Americans were banned from military service or asked to “Don’t ask, don’t tell.” It’s time for Trump to do the same. Delete the tweets!



Gordon Klingenschmitt

As a 20-year honorably discharged veteran, Air Force Academy graduate and former Navy chaplain, I support President Donald Trump’s decision to ban transgender mentally confused individuals from military service, for five reasons.

First, the military has an honor code that prohibits lying. In combat, we learn that trusting your shipmate is essential to saving lives. If a service member is willing to lie to you and to themselves about their own anatomy, how can anyone trust their word in war? You cannot, and mistrust will cost lives. Not to mention training everybody else on “polite pronoun usage” where warriors must call “him” a “her” makes liars of us all.

Second, compassion requires we medically treat gender dysphoria as a mental illness, not force doctors to join the patient’s lie.

The disease progresses in four stages: self-doubt, self-hatred, self-mutilation, and self-murder, with 40 percent to 53 percent attempting suicide, unless they mentally stop rejecting their God-given anatomy.

Renowned Johns Hopkins psychiatrist Paul McHugh had once encouraged sex-change operations but stopped when research showed it caused an increase in suicides. “I concluded that Hopkins was fundamentally cooperating with a mental illness.”

For 38 years, his hospital then stopped doing the surgeries they had pioneered, until this year they resumed for political, not medically scientific, reasons.

Third, co-ed showers violate women’s privacy and safety. With women and homosexuals now serving unrestricted in virtually all combat-related career fields, sexual aggression is at an all-time high in the military. While sexual assaults against women in the military continue to rise, GQ reports more military men are assaulted than women — nearly 14,000 in 2012 alone. All men and women service members deserve gender-private tents, barracks and showers for their own safety, but under the Obama administration’s policy (which thankfully Trump is canceling), women who don’t enjoy showering with transgender confused men were to be re-educated to “deal with it” and likely faced discipline for objecting to abuse.

Fourth, religious freedom in the military would be further endangered. A recent headline confirms “Christian soldier says Army forced him to go to transgender training” after his commander denied his request for a religious accommodation to opt out. This is just the tip of the iceberg. Imagine our future military under the Obama plan, court-martialing Christians if they object to sharing co-ed showers.

Fifth, taxpayers would be soaked for a harmful “social-experimentation” program that does not sharpen our tooth-to-tail ratio. What should our Pentagon budget cut to distribute “free” estrogen injections to confused men or testosterone to confused women? Should they cut body armor? Weapons? Replace combat training with political-correctness training? How many hours, or even lives, will that cost our troops?

The purpose of the military, bluntly, is to kill evil people and break their evil toys, not to provide “free” health care to mentally ill soldiers; that’s the Department of Veterans Affairs’ job, not the Pentagon’s. God Bless Bradley/Chelsea Manning, but transgenders should be compassionately discharged, not recruited for free handouts so they can weaken our national defense on the taxpayer’s dole.

Paul Rosenthal represents Denver’s House District 9 in the Colorado House of Representatives. He is a Democrat. Gordon Klingenschmitt, Ph.D., is a chaplain and formerly represented House District 15 from Colorado Springs.

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