Late Tuesday, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis delivered a blow to Donald Trump’s plan to ban transgender troops from the military. In a statement sure to raise his boss’ ire, Mattis said Tuesday evening that transgender troops will be allowed to continue their service pending the outcome of a study and Mattis’ own consultation with the Department of Homeland Security. Maybe if Trump spent more time strutting in disaster zones, the generals could restore order to America.
The transgender ban has been another contentious personal policy since Trump introduced it in a tweet two months ago. Despite tepid support of the LGBTQ community during his campaign, Trump quickly abandoned his promises especially in regard to the thousands of transgender troops serving America’s interests at home and abroad. Trump’s about face calling for a total ban of all present and future trans-troops caught even the highest-ranking military leaders by surprise in July.
In his initial tweets on transgender service, Trump relied on the ruse of medical costs as his justification for the ban. He followed that by unilaterally declaring that trans-troops have a detrimental effect on military readiness. Last year, a Pentagon commissioned study by RAND Corporation, a non-profit and non-partisan global think tank that provides objective research for the U.S. armed services, found that trans-troop medical costs and impact on military readiness would be negligible.
In his oft-demonstrated ignorant style, however, Trump dismissed the fact-based advice of reliable professionals and substituted his own bigoted opinions to establish policy. The announcement left many active and prospective service members questioning their futures both in and out of the military. In addition to their current or past service, Trump’s ambiguous declaration had hung troops’ military and Veteran’s Administration benefits in the balance.
This month, the ACLU filed suit against Trump’s trans-ban. Advocates for the LGBTQ community called the ban discriminatory and unconstitutional. Early in the controversy, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Marine Gen. Joseph Dunford had even defied Trump’s Twitter announced ban. Clearly, the ban is another representation of his biased personally held beliefs that have little to no support among rational and accepting Americans of all walks.
Mattis is known as a no-nonsense leader who has built a reputation on little tolerance for policies or politics that are a detriment to the military’s readiness or effectiveness. While his current stance contradicts his boss, it is difficult to ascertain on which side of the controversy Mattis will fall. A step in the right direction, his policy statement needs to be more defined: The U.S. armed services will accept, employ, and honor ALL applicants and troops because every citizen has a right to serve their country.
As a many sworn to defend the nation, its democratic ideals, and the laws and constitution, Mattis — a decorated veteran accustomed to standing tall against adversity — must find the same courage he relied on during his years of service. He should deliver his message of tolerance and acceptance to Trump in a manner that leaves no room for question. Anything less on Mattis’s part is a dereliction of his duties to the country and the trans-troops who have already proven their dedication under his leadership.
Trump is a man with no military service or concept of honor. He has no regard for, or loyalty to, the men, women, and LGBTQ troops who daily, put their lives at risk to protect our individual rights and freedoms and Trump’s personal obsession with acting like a spoiled king. Trump should be thankful that his generals are only trying to right his wrongs through democratic means…and not deposing the little-handed dictator as they would in other countries.