I wanna be an Airborne Ranger,
I wanna lead a life of danger,
I wanna go to Vietnam,
I wanna kill some Viet Cong.
– Vietnam-era double-time cadence
As I’m writing this it’s been a few days since President Trump declared that transgendered people will no longer be allowed to join the military. As an Army veteran, I strongly applaud that decision.
Restrictions on who can serve in the military are nothing new. There are many conditions that can prohibit people from serving: deafness, blindness, asthma, epilepsy, age, lack of education, criminal record, height and weight restrictions, low IQ, psychological conditions, and many more.
Each of these criteria categorize those individuals who fail to meet the required standard as unfit to serve based on the underlying principle of what is “good for the needs of the service,” and rightfully so.
The job of the military is to kill people and blow things up. It’s not a social engineering lab. Anything that detracts from that primary mission makes it less effective and gets the wrong people killed: our own.
In basic training one of the first things the cadre does, part of the primary goal of basic, is to subdue or eliminate individualism – because it harms the team effort. That’s why everyone gets the buzz haircut, badly fit uniforms, yelled at all the time by everybody, and driven until you drop.
All because you have to get past the idea that you’re “special” and learn you’re just one cog in the machine, and only then can you start learning how to function effectively in a military environment.
In battle, anything that detracts from the team effort can get you killed. And there’s no such thing as “privacy.” You eat, sleep, crap, fight, bleed and die together. You can’t have disruptive issues in a unit – because, again, they can get you killed.
But by their very nature, what are the transgendered? If nothing else, based on their percentage of the overall population, they’re certainly not “mainstream” in any way. At “around 0.6 percent of U.S. adults” (https://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2016/06/30/484253324/1-4-million-adults-identify-as-transgender-in-america-study-says), they most assuredly are different from the average soldier, if not outright “special.”
Further, “transgender” is indisputably a psychological condition or disorder (https://www.icd10data.com/ICD10CM/Codes/F01-F99/F60-F69/F64-/F64.1, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gender_dysphoria). A host of psychological conditions preclude military service, so this ban isn’t breaking any new ground in that respect.
Most importantly, part of the transgender existence means adopting the appearance of the opposite sex. There’s no way that can take place without being disruptive to unit cohesion, particularly if it takes place during duty periods. That’s just an inescapable truth.
Have transgendered people served, and served honorably, in the past? Without a doubt. But – and it’s a big “but” – they’ve done so without displaying their transgender proclivities. Kind of a de facto “don’t ask, don’t tell” reality.
That’s not what we’re discussing now. What we’re talking about now is “trans” people serving as openly “trans,” and there’s absolutely no way that wouldn’t be disruptive.
For example, the military regulations defining uniform design and grooming standards are different for men than they are for women. So how would that work? Would transgender men in a unit suddenly be authorized to wear skirt uniforms and man-buns? And somehow or another the other men in the unit wouldn’t react to that, and to the person appearing that way?
That’s a complete denial of basic human nature, on top of which it encourages the very “specialness” that basic training was designed to eliminate, as I mentioned earlier. It’s going to unavoidably affect unit cohesion, and very possibly get people killed, ultimately.
What about transgender males wanting to use the females’ latrines and shower facilities, and vice versa? Not to mention trying to accommodate this problem in the field. How would that “specialness” be worked out without a whole lot of needless disruption to operations, not to mention unit cohesion?
Further, let me ask this question: if it’s “discriminatory” to bar transgendered people from serving, don’t we then have to open the doors to asthmatics, epileptics, people with Down Syndrome, blind people, and anyone and everyone else who’s currently barred from serving because he or she fails to meet certain required qualifications? Aren’t those people being “discriminated” against, too? Isn’t the very idea of qualifications discriminatory?
So this bizarre idea that you can just throw anybody into the military, especially combat units, without regard to any real-world concerns and everything is going to be just fine – it’s completely unrealistic.
Remember the mission: killing people and blowing things up. Not social engineering.
Brian Baker is a Saugus resident.