Trump’s Contempt for Transgender Heroes

From The New York Times:

July 26, 2017

Last year, there was a reunion of the crew of the U.S.S. Francis Scott Key. The submarine had been launched in 1966, and was part of the Navy’s nuclear fleet until its decommissioning in 1993.

Machinist Mate First Class Monica Helms was nervous about going to the reunion. She’d served on the Francis Scott Key as well as on another sub for eight years. But she’d come out as transgender since that time. It wasn’t clear how her shipmates would react.

She needn’t have worried. “It was an amazing experience,” she told me. “We were just shipmates, that’s all it was.” Thirty years later, there was still a sense of loyalty, not only to the country, but to the people with whom she had served.

“The fact that we were all doing the same work, experiencing the same stress, going through the same problems, that put you on the same level as them. They see that you are willing to do the job, and you can do it, and they are fine with that. They trust you.”

I spoke with Ms. Helms on Wednesday, about an hour after President Trump announced, in a series of tweets, that transgender people are not welcome in America’s military, reversing a movement toward open and unashamed service initiated during the Obama administration.

No, thank you, President Trump. Thank you for making it clear, once again, that you were lying during the campaign when you tweeted to L.G.B.T. people: “I will fight for you while Hillary brings in more people that will threaten your freedoms and beliefs.”

Transgender Americans have served and are serving courageously in our military. “I came from a long line of people who have served in this country,” said Ms. Helms. “To have someone say to me, I’m not worthy to be allowed to serve, simply because I’m different, is a horrible and bigoted way of looking at things.”

The statement isn’t just horrible and bigoted. It’s also inaccurate. Trans medical costs to the military are not “tremendous” — they are negligible.

A RAND study commissioned by the former defense secretary Ashton B. Carter found that transgender service members would “cost little and have no significant impact on unit readiness.” It estimated that paying for active-duty members to transition would cost $2.9 million to $4.2 million a year. The study also found that there are around 2,450 transgender active-duty service members (though other estimates go above 15,000). What will these people do now?

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