Conservative Column

Prematurely blocking Trump’s transgender ban is just identity politics

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Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand challenged President Trump's ban on transgendered individuals in the military while research on transgender people’s fitness remains incomplete.

Of all the things United States senators could be doing, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) andSen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) recently spearheaded an amendment to undo President Donald Trump’s plan to ban transgender individuals from serving in the military.

Gillibrand and Collins’ proposed amendment does nothing but pander to identity politics. The amendment is sure to be defeated — considering the Department of Defense is still researching transgender people’s fitness to serve — so there’s no point in the Senate wasting time on it.

The initiative comes in response to Trump’s July tweets declaring transgender people would be prohibited from serving in the military.

After consultation with my Generals and military experts, please be advised that the United States Government will not accept or allow……

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 26, 2017

….Transgender individuals to serve in any capacity in the U.S. Military. Our military must be focused on decisive and overwhelming…..

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 26, 2017

….victory and cannot be burdened with the tremendous medical costs and disruption that transgender in the military would entail. Thank you

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 26, 2017

Although every citizen should be able to fight for their country, some obstacles make that impossible. For example, people diagnosed with diabetes are often disqualified from entering the military. This is not because the U.S. doubts their patriotism. Rather, the military obviously must put health above individual liberties.

Average civilians, who know nothing of war, are in no place to tell the military who is fit to serve. The military is not banning individuals because of their gender identity. Just like those with diabetes, there may be security threats that can endanger the individual and other soldiers.

After announcing his ban, Trump directed Defense Secretary James Mattis to study transgender individuals serving in the military. This amendment to overturn Trump’s ban should be shelved until this research is complete. Should the research check out in favor of transgender individuals who wish to enlist, then the amendment should be passed by both parties in Congress.

There is already research that raises concerns for transgender individuals being in the military. In a study of 298 transgender women, JAMA Pediatrics found that 41.5 percent had at least one mental health or substance dependence diagnosis and 20.1 percent had two or more psychiatric diagnoses.

Although statistics never tell the whole story, these results provide clear safety concerns for transgender individuals seeking military careers. These results require more research, which can then be used to determine the acceptance of military transgender recruits.

Overall, the amendment is a prime example of simply conforming to ideology, as it’s a clear attempt for Gillibrand and Collins to look like social justice warriors. They can add this battle to their resumes and tout their work for defending LGBTQ rights. Their work just helps continue the narrative of Trump’s ignorance and supposed betrayal of the LGBTQ community.

But perhaps Trump is not banning transgender people because of their gender identity. Perhaps there are real security concerns that must be considered.

The Pentagon should complete its study before any further action can take place. And if the research shows transgender individuals should be cleared for active duty, then the amendment should have full bipartisan support.
Joseph Pucciarelli is a junior public relations and history dual major. His column appears weekly. He can be reached at jjpuccia@syr.edu and followed on Twitter @JoeyPucciarelli.

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