Trump’s latest example of blatant bigotry incites debate over what qualifies somebody to serve
Donald Trump shocked the world on July 26 by announcing the military would no longer accept transgender individuals to serve.
What ensued shortly after can be described in one word: firestorm. A chaotic mess of differing opinions surfaced within social media, veterans’ groups, and political figures. Many have been given the opportunity to voice their honest thoughts about the transgender population, often transphobic, due to Trump’s propensity for blunt and often offensive comments.
This announcement was made via Twitter, falling into line with Trump’s history of tweet-happy tendencies. Despite the magnitude of the issue, he thought that the best way to inform America of the change, which will undoubtedly affect many individuals, was over social media, showing the clear lack of professionalism that many have grown to associate with Trump.
As expected, many were outraged. His reasoning for this bigoted policy was the medical costs associated with transgender individuals. He gave no data to support his claims. Since his tweets were made public, a plethora of data related to United States military spending surfaced, causing political uproar.
Many connections have been drawn between military spending regarding transgender medical costs in comparison to the costs of other “frivolous” medical expenses, such as Viagra, which the U.S. military spends $41.6 million on annually, according to The Washington Post. The total national defense budget is $598.5 billion. To put into perspective, the estimated treatment of transgender individuals would only account for one-thousandth of a percent of the military’s annual budget.
No other reason has been offered to explain the sudden policy change. From this, one conclusion can be drawn: transphobia. Given Trump’s history of brazen comments and strong opinions, it corroborates with his typical insensitivity to minorities.
Trump’s policy promotes exclusion and further oppression of an already marginalized group. If a person is able-bodied and selfless enough to serve their country, they should not be denied the right to do so simply because of their gender identity. Furthermore, the military is already hard-pressed to find individuals willing to risk their lives in the name of nationalism. In turn, it is nonsensical to turn away those who have a desire to do so.
As said by Jeff Miller, a US representative for the state of Florida, “The willingness of America’s veterans to sacrifice for our country has earned them our lasting gratitude.”
Even though these soldiers readily make sacrifices for their country, we are hesitant to reciprocate with our gratitude. Transgender soldiers do everything in their power to support their country. Why can’t their country support them?