By Linda Cako
On December 11, 2017, the Pentagon ruled that it will be accepting transgender recruits against President Trump’s ban to exclude them from joining the military. The ruling came as a decision from the Pentagon to pay for a transgender surgery after two of them were already performed by former U.S Navy Flight Surgeon, Dr. Christine McGinn for free.
President Trump explained in a tweet, stating that “Our military must be focused on decisiveness and overwhelming … victory and cannot be burdened with the tremendous costs and disruption that transgender in the military would entail,”to justify his ban. However, other sources have shown that incorporating transgender healthcare into the military will only add an additional $2.4 – $8.4 million annually (RAND Corporation, 2016). For the U.S military budget, this is only a fraction of a percent increase.
“Our military must be focused on decisiveness and overwhelming … victory and cannot be burdened with the tremendous costs and disruption that transgender in the military would entail,”
The Pentagon issued a statement saying that they felt it was important to pay for the surgery as it was medically necessary for the solider to receive it. While some went to argue their opinion about the necessity of this surgery, Dr. Christine McGinn argued that these types of procedures should be looked at as a necessity because they are not cosmetic procedures. They assist in the overall well-being of the solider. Trans soldiers should be given this right since like all soldiers, they are fighting to protect their county and should be given the right to health care.
Good mental health and wellbeing are important objectives for the military towards its soldiers, as it makes for a more efficient and effective army. The military provides a plethora of support for its soldiers so it should make sense that it would also help them through their decisions to transition and receive the procedure. The American Medical Association and American Psychiatric Association both agree that transitioning is beneficial for trans individuals as it helps to greatly reduce their gender dysphoria. Gender dysphoria is “a conflict between a person’s physical or assigned gender and the gender with which he/she/they identify,” (American Psychiatric Association, 2016). It is important for the military to address this as untreated gender dysphoria can lead to depression, anxiety, and sometimes, suicide.
This is all coming around the same time when Bill C-16 is stirring great debate throughout Canada. Whatever the stance is, the importance of these events is that they are helping to push the boundaries on gender norms and to be more open as a society to accept the overall LGBTQ community.
LGBTQ community members face discrimination on a daily basis and are used to living with targets on their backs. In the 21st century, this behaviour is beyond embarrassing and shows how far society has yet to progress to become more accepting of others. Hopefully, through these events, people will be more open-minded and accommodating for a more diverse group of individuals within communities. As this year has proven to everyone, homophobia is still a very real issue and is one that is not always condemned by leaders of countries. Often it is the leaders who keep their backs towards the LGBTQ community in the first place. Therefore it is essential that change happens through the population first and seeps its way into politics after.
Linda is a grade 12 student at FHCI and is a Social Issues Editor for The Golden Falcon newspaper.
Image Source: http://www.nydailynews.com/news/politics/trump-announces-transgender-military-service-ban-twitter-article-1.3357685