Local veterans react to transgender military ban

Alfonzo Boyd, Katherine Austin-Bohanon and Alphonso Dickie

Local veterans react to transgender military ban
August 03
03:00 2017

With one tweet last Wednesday, President Donald Trump ordered transgender individuals barred from military service.

“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,” said Trump in a series of tweets.

The move, which came on the 69th anniversary of President Harry Truman’s order to integrate the Armed Services, was unexpected. The Pentagon, which was studying the effect of lifting the ban on transgender individuals in 2016,  was not aware of this change in policy before it was tweeted and is taking no action until it receives formal guidance from the White House.

A 2016 Rand Corp. study, commissioned by the Defense Department, found the costs associated with gender transition would cost the military $2.4 million to $8.4 million, a “negligible” amount in overall medial expenses. The military spends fives times that much on Viagra. Gender transition through surgery and hormones is a common treatment for gender dysphoria, which is when someone feels his or her body and gender don’t match. Gender dysphoria is not a mental illness, but can cause stress, depression and anxiety if it’s not addressed.

The Rand study also said the 18 other countries that allow transgender personnel to serve openly, including Israel and the United Kingdom, found it had no effect on unit cohesion and readiness. It estimated there is between 2,150 and 10,790 transgender personnel on active duty and reserves, though others estimate the population may be higher.

Some have speculated the transgender ban may be an attempt by Trump to distract from last week’s failed attempts to repeal Obamacare and his Twitter attacks on Attorney General Jeff Sessions. Politico and Newsweek reported that the ban was aimed at some lawmakers, who were concerned about the surgery costs, to get them to set aside $1.6 billion out of the defense budget for a portion of his proposed border wall.

The Reaction

The transgender ban sparked protests last Wednesday in New York, San Fransisco and Washington, D.C. that drew hundreds.  Some conservative lawmakers have spoken in support of it, saying they don’t believe the military should be paying for gender transition, others, like Sen. John McCain and many Democrats. have opposed the ban. The American Liberty Unions and other activist groups have condemned it.

Locally, the ban didn’t go over well with Stephen Hicks and Ross Mecham, two veterans who volunteer at North Star LGBTQ Community Center. Hicks, a Air Force veteran who was discharged because of his bisexuality in 1990, said he didn’t believe most who serve in a war care about gender or sexuality, only if the person fighting next to them has their back.

“When you’re in a combat situation, sex is the furthest thing from your mind,” said Hicks,  a local representative of veteran suicide prevention group Mission 22. “You’re not thinking about anything sexual, you’re thinking about getting your butt back home.”

Mecham, a straight Marine veteran, questioned if Trump should really make a decision like that about military personnel without having served himself.

“If you come out and make that kind of decision without having shared a barracks or mess hall or, for God’s sakes, been under fire, then I don’t think you have the right to make that decision, the moral right,” said Mecham.

Veterans with HARRY Veterans Community Outreach Center – Alphonso Dickie, Katherine Austin-Bohanon and Alfonzo Boyd – also had strong opinions on it.

Austin-Bohanon said she believed all military personnel should be allowed to serve as long they meet the rigorous physical and mental requirements of the Armed Forces.

“I feel like if someone is qualified and able to serve, they should serve,” said Austin-Bohanon, an Army veteran.

Dickie, a Marine veteran, said that while he doesn’t feel that the military should pay for gender transition, he didn’t support the ban. He said if anyone is let go over this change, they should be discharged honorably with full benefits, but he hoped that those already in the Armed Forces would be able to continue to serve.

“I think it’s an honorable thing for any American to be able to serve their country in any way they’re qualified,” said Dickie.

Boyd, a Marine veteran, actually did support reinstating a transgender ban. He said he was uncomfortable with the thought of serving with gay or transgender servicemen in close quarters and didn’t support allowing them in the military. However, he said announcing the change over Twitter without consulting the military first was wrong and illustrated why Trump shouldn’t be president.

“He is spectacularly unqualified,” said Boyd.

Austin-Bohanon  called the way the ban was announced “totally ignorant” and Dickie said it was “unpresidential, disrespectful.”

About Author

Todd Luck

Todd Luck

Related Articles


Featured Sponsor

Receive Chronicle Updates

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.



More Sponsors