John Lennon said it best, “Don’t hate what you understand.” Controversy over the ban against transgenders in the military and the possibility of the ban being lifted is stirring up a lot of hatred against the LGBT that is seemingly stemmed from people who don’t understand. Even with the vast improvement in equal rights that our country has undergone, including “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” being repealed, there are still many people in the world who do not agree that the members of the LGBT should have the same rights as heterosexuals.
After speaking to a solider in the U.S Army, I found that this person in particular had two arguments against allowing transgenders in the military. Their first argument was that almost every transgender was going to join the service in order to get the military to pay for their sex-reassignment surgery. This solider did not understand that sex-reassignment surgery is complex; therefore these transgenders will not be joining the military one day and be in the operating room the next. In fact, sex-reassignment is a very long process and requires quite a bit of therapy in order to receive two referrals from a mental health professional. The candidates for this surgery also have to undergo one year of hormone replacement therapy and one year of living in the gender role coinciding with their gender identity. In short, the soldier’s argument does not make too much sense because the process behind the surgery is far too complicated to be monetarily “fixed” by joining the military.
The twelve months of hormone replacement therapy brought the solider to their second argument, which was twofold. The first part of the argument surrounding hormone replacement therapy was that the military will be paying for these said hormones. There are vast amounts of medications supplied to Americans, so discriminating against hormones vs. something “understood” like antidepressants is wrong. The second part of the argument surrounded the notion that hormone replacement therapy would not be provided for deployed soldiers, therefore making them go through withdrawals and potentially become insane. This is perhaps the most outlandish argument of the three mainly because it categorizes all transgenders as being in the same step of their life long journey. The argument also holds a negative connotation towards transgenders being mentally unstable due to having a different gender identity, which is not the case. In fact, there is no medical reason for the ban, which can be seen more in depth here. The soldier’s reasoning behind this squabble had much to do with Chelsea Manning, a transgender solider in the U.S Army who was convicted of leaking classified documents to the public. I agree that Chelsea Manning gave transgender soldiers a bad rap to those who like to put people in categories, but we cannot blame or impose another person’s actions on an entire group of people.
The lift of this ban will be such a monumental step for the LGBT community and will hopefully help to deter the hatred surrounding the word “transgender.” Recently, a sixteen year old transgender was assaulted at her school and fought back in self-defense and is now being charged with battery. This is heart-breaking for many reasons and shows that we are doing our future generations a huge disservice by not eradicating this hatred. To sign the petition to get this teen’s charges dropped, click here.