Marching orders – Sorry state of US military transgenders

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Editorial, in the Indian Express, July 28, 2017

Historically, the armed forces have been the world’s most heavily gendered institutions.

James kottoor(Note: CCV already published two reports on problems transgenders face in US the oldest and India the largest democracies. In  US President Trump simply booted them out of the military through a Twitter. In India the government is trying to give them  preferential  treatment since they are denied equal treatment in society. Please read those posts in the last week’s CCV.

This editorial in the Indian Express is produced here because it high lights various problems transgenders face,  briefly and forcefully. Nowhere in the world transgenders are discriminated in the army. Till the time of Obama the rule was  “Don’t ask, don’t tell” in the army in US. Transgenders could join the US military without revealing themselves, both men and women. That is no one will ask your: “Are you a transgender?” and even if some one asks, you don’t have to admit, you are.

Obama took away that rule also so that transgenders coud openly join the military and stay in service openly. It I this privilege that Trump has trampled under foot. Now those who have revealed themselves feel, they have been cheated and punished while those who have not come publicly feel they have acted wisely. Trump’s conduct amounts to insult added injury to poor transgenders.  james kottoor, editor)

The armed forces deserve our respect. In certain matters, they may also deserve our sympathy. The US military had barely got used to having LGBT personnel in their straitlaced ranks, and now they face the question of transgenders. They give President Trump the willies and he wants to make a clean sweep.

If his intentions are clearly understood, not only will the forces have to stop recruiting transgenders, but commanders will have to weed out those already in service. Prominent among them is Chelsea Manning, who had joined up as Bradley Manning, and siphoned off some very damaging material from military communications on a CD labelled “Lady Gaga”. In Trump’s eyes, transgenders like her must be the very worst.

Historically, the armed forces have been the world’s most heavily gendered institutions. Women had a hard time graduating from camp followers to the front ranks, and women combat pilots are still a tiny minority worldwide. Then, in 1994, the Clinton administration took a daring step forward with the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy in the US military, which ensured that closet homosexuals were not discriminated against. Finally, they were let out of the closet, and in 2016, transgenders were allowed to join the ranks.

Given Trump’s native inclinations, he would probably like to turn the clock back to please sections of his electorate, and the rest of America is outraged. Indeed, it’s a global question, since the forces of several prosperous nations have voted against gender discrimination in their armies, and the US is the most powerful of them.

But we shouldn’t worry, because in time, technology will provide a fix. The time is near when wars will be fought like video games, and gender will be the least important qualification of a soldier.

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