Author- Vladimir Zark
It’s been a few days already since the advent of Trump’s tweet, including the ardent backlash that the left predictably displayed. Pundits on both sides have given fairly inaccurate representations of the details surrounding this controversy – that is to say that they’ve woven the news into an agenda. The left has admittedly reacted much more immaturely, claiming that the president is doing this for prejudicial and bigoted reasons, proving to them once again that the entire Republican Party and its supporters are backwards, immoral, and intolerant bigots who can’t handle a few transgender soldiers. That’s the left’s silly narrative, which we will willingly refute here. In my opinion, the right’s narrative, which is that transgender people are simply mentally unstable and that Trump is finally going in the right direction, has its own share of problems, but is much less toxic.
Firstly, we must look at the problem of scale, and what effect transgender soldiers have, statistically, on the entire population of active soldiers in the military. There is no clear information on how many transgender soldiers are active, but a 2016 study estimates between 1,320 and 6,630 soldiers. The number of active soldiers in the military is approximately 1.3 million. Numerically speaking, that means that transgender soldiers represent between 0.1% and 0.5% of the active soldier population. This doesn’t make them irrelevant by any sense, but it shows how the left will inflate any issue that is centered on a so-called minority group, simply because they’ve elected themselves the protectors of these groups and their rights.
Not only is the issue statistically minor, but it is framed in an entirely unrealistic way by most left-wing media: for instance, Trevor Noah had cynically asked on the Daily Show, when reading Trump’s tweet, “what medical costs are you talking about, Trump?” While gender transitions are said to increase military expenditures by between $2.4 million and $8.4 million per year – an arguably large number, if you ask me – I am certain that the cost for hormone injections, prescription drugs, therapists, and other necessities run the military many more millions of dollars.
We should make note not only of the fiscal costs surrounding transgender soldiers, but the potential emotional costs: a national study reports that over 40% of transgender individuals have attempted suicide. This raises significant concerns about the emotional stability of transgender persons, and whether they can be trusted with a weapon in armed service at all – and I have no feelings against transgender people, but I am deeply concerned both for their health and the health of their fellow soldiers. They are clearly a sensitive demographic, and should be treated as such: sending them into armed combat, where even sane men lose their minds and are forever changed, could end up costing our country much more than a few million dollars. I’m sure that Trump didn’t singlehandedly think of this – surely, he had agreed on the decision with the help of a team. The military is a topic that the right generally feels more attached to than the left, which could also be part of the motivation for Trump’s decision – he weighed the odds.
The costs aside, we face a problem where the left seems to sincerely think that Trump is nothing more than a prejudiced person pandering to the right: Gersh Kuntzman of The New York Daily News says “If you’re not outraged by the ban on transgender people serving in the military, your prejudices are laid bare”, which implicates Trump voters into feeling like prejudiced people if they’re not ‘outraged’; David Remnick of the New Yorker says “Today’s outrage reveals yet another layer of his political cynicism, and his willingness to use any tactical means available to try to emerge whole from his current predicament”, suggesting that Trump isn’t doing well, and desperately used this ban to appear that he’s still on the right’s side. The problem with the first argument is that it’s an emotional appeal, centered on ‘outrage’ as the source of the ban’s problem – not only does this neglect the purpose of the ban, but it also character-assassinates Trump as someone who has prejudices against transgender people, which likely isn’t true, and is clearly not the reason for the ban. It creates a tension between the ‘outraged’ on the left and the ‘prejudiced’ on the right, which further divides our country in half and illustrates the elitist mentality of the left – moral saviors of the trans folk, fighting against the prejudiced conservatives. The second argument is even more elitist, for it presupposes that most of the country is against him: the New Yorker article, entitled The Cruelty and Cynicism of Trump’s Transgender Ban (quite a title), states “A sizable portion of the country wants to be rid of him and suspects he is untrustworthy of his office”. I don’t know where this sizable portion is. Maybe it’s in New York City and California. But I believe that the 38.4% who approve of Trump and his decisions are just as important as the 55.8% who disapprove (cited from 538). The argument in the article seems to revolve around the point that Trump is using the ban to cheaply score points with the right, yet it is clear that this ban wasn’t necessary for that – as far as I’m concerned, the right is perfectly content if Trump attains his initially promised goals. Trump isn’t the most popular president in history, but he’s doing a good job of following on promises. The ban is one of his many assertive successes.
Besides, even if Trump is doing this to pander to the right, why is the left is so concerned with the involvement of transgender people in the military? Do they care so much about sending these people off to risk their lives? Maybe Trump is looking out for their well-being, taking into consideration the fact that the leading authority on what’s considered mental illness in the discipline of psychology, the DSM-V, says that transgenderism, now called gender dysphoria, is still officially a mental illness. To join the armed forces, you cannot have any diagnosis for depression, anxiety, ADHD, PTSD, bipolar disorder, and many other illnesses – transgenderism, even if you don’t consider it a mental illness, is a more complicated condition than all of those. Most of my friends on the right respect one’s right to be transgender and have no qualms with it – I just think, for instance, on the complications of a person who is biologically female, has transitioned to male, and now cannot perform at the same level, physically, as her male counterparts. This could bring down the efficiency of the military by a significant amount, and even get people killed in a time of stress. It’s not a matter of prejudice or pandering, but a question of practicality. Why the left is so concerned with a few thousand people is beyond me – as far as I can be sure, their goal here is to virtue-signal as much as possible, character-assassinate Trump, humiliate and demoralize the right, and win the ideological battle. Not to be blatant, but if Obama had passed a similar kind of ban, the left would likely have taken a completely different tone and approach. But that’s not the point.
The point is that in the end of it all, Trump’s ban is multifaceted: it addresses a clear concern about transgender soldiers, gives both sides of the political spectrum something to work with, and reminds us that Trump is still the authority in this country. He continues to deliver.