Professors, students go on the record with opinions about Trump’s transgender military ban

President Trump tweeted earlier this month that transgender people would be barred from military service. Graphic by Kaitlyn Anderson.

President Donald Trump decided to return to the pre-2016 policy prohibiting transgender individuals from serving in the United States Military. Now some LeeU professors are speaking out about it.

The controversy began after President Trump sent out a series of tweets through his Twitter account on July 26.

“After consultation with my Generals and military experts, please be advised that the United States Government will not accept or allow transgender individuals to serve in any capacity in the U. S. Military,” Trump wrote. “Our military must be focused on decisive and overwhelming victory and cannot be burdened with the tremendous medical costs and disruption that transgender in the military would entail. Thank you.”

This proposed plan was put into action on Aug. 25 when President Trump signed a directive banning transgender recruits.

According to a recent RAND study, there are an estimated 2,450 active transgender personnel in the Armed Forces and 1,510 in the selected reserve.

The issue of the barring of transgender people from American Armed Forces seems to have struck a chord with many members of Lee’s campus.

Dr. Arlie Tagayuna, a sociology professor, said he believes the ban is infringing on the humanity of individuals.

“I think it’s not a question of agreeing or disagreeing; it’s a question about…the rights to participate in any aspect of the society, particularly in this case the military service,” Tagayuna said. “People argue that it would be costing more for people to have transgenders in the military, when in fact it costs more for our military to spend for Viagra and other forms of medication that we would consider normal in our society.”

According to CNN, the presidential memorandum bans the Department of Defense from using its resources to provide medical treatment regimens for transgender individuals currently serving in the military, a service offered to transgender people thanks to a last-minute order by former President Barack Obama.

But Obama’s order proved to be unpopular with military personnel. According to a survey conducted of active-duty members, only 12 percent of those surveyed found it helpful — 41 percent called it harmful.

Audrey Johnson, a senior history major, told Lee Clarion that too many financial ramifications were inevitable if government-funded medical expenses were allowed to continue incurring.

“How can we justify spending millions of dollars on that when our veterans are homeless, when our veterans need medical care?” Johnson said.

According to Time, sex reassignment surgeries can average up to $130,000. And U.S. representatives were told at a Republican conference that the projected 10-year cost of covering transgender medical costs in the military would be $3–4 billion.

Texas Rep. Louie Gohmert (R) said in a press release that there’s a considerable downside to proclaiming medical coverage for all transgenders besides the costs.

“They say that for the normal minimum two years of all the pre-surgery hormonal treatments, actual surgery and post-surgical rehab and adjustments that make the military member undeployable, they are not provided a replacement for that slot in their unit,” wrote Gohmert. “Thus, the more who request sex change operations, the fewer military members there are available to fight and deter our enemies from killing us or taking our freedom.”

On the other side of the argument, psychology professor Dr. Trevor Milliron invites those interested to take a look at transgender personnel with more heart, and said that religion ought to play a big role in Christian opinion.

“For us to be biased against people that have these very, very extraordinarily difficult circumstances is, in my opinion, un-Christian and inhuman,” Milliron said. “For someone to say that because of this problem, even though it has no impact on who you are as a human and your ability to fight and serve your country, that we’re not gonna let you serve?”

But data compiled by Salt Lake City Veterans Affairs Medical Center shows that military veterans who identify as transgender have the highest rate of mental health issues. Ninety percent have at least one mental health diagnosis, and almost 50 percent were hospitalized after a suicide attempt or suicidal thoughts.

Even so, Carey Shiflett, a senior sociology major, said she has the highest regard for any who are willing to give their lives.

“I will say that, at the end of the day, I’m thankful for anyone who stands up and says they are willing to put their lives on the line to protect me,” Shiflett said. “I don’t see why we would turn perfectly good people away just because of how they identify sexually or mentally.”

While many people are able to make a definitive statement of their opinions on this issue, others still find themselves in the middle.

Carter Landreth, a senior Psychology major, said he’s able to see the good intentions on both sides.

“I know that [Trump’s] trying to get back to some Christian principles,” Landreth said. “But at the same time, I feel like there is a healthier way to do this. I’m a big believer that we are supposed to love people, but we aren’t supposed to love the sin.”

Others still are finding conflict where their faith and study collide. Psychology professor Dr. Susan Ashcraft said she responded to the ban with hesitancy.

“I don’t think our sexuality or gender should prohibit us from being able to serve,” Ashcraft said. “Who’s to say that someone who is a transgender person would not better be able to serve our country than me or vice versa? I mean, who makes that call?”

Ashcraft then went on to admit her inner struggle with the aspect of the unknown in how to effectively treat this issue as a Christian.

“I’m challenged. I am resolute in my faith, I’m resolute in my beliefs, but now I think that I’m challenged always to love and always not to judge and always to see others as Christ sees them,” Ashcraft said. “I know the science of it, and I teach it in class. And I know that I can’t answer why this happens…but I do know that I am called to love as Christ loves.”

As the United States military moves forward, the conversation on the definition of equality in this nation — and how Christians ought to respond in the meantime — is far from over.


Originally published at www.leeclarion.com.

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