US PRESIDENT Donald Trump is known for tweeting reactionary and bigoted views and also for making up policy on the hoof. Sometimes he does both together – possibly in an effort to avoid the description often applied to his predecessor Gerald Ford (“he can’t walk and chew gum at the same time”).
Today is one of those “both” occasions. Last year, Trump’s immediate predecessor, President Obama, decided to allow transgender people to serve openly in the US military. Trump’s Defence Secretary, James Mattis, delayed implementation of that policy for six months. Today Donald Trump has announced on Twitter that transgender people cannot serve “in any capacity” in the US military. He says that he has consulted with military experts on this and claims his reason for reversing Obama’s policy is “tremendous medical costs and disruption”.
The Rand Corporation, a US based not for profit research institution, estimated in 2016 that the US military has 1.2 million military personnel, of whom 2,450 are transgender. This can only make one wonder just what kind of tremendous medical costs this 0.002% of the military could possibly rack up – and how they could combine to cause significant disruption.
Does a transgender broken leg incurred on active service cost masses more to set than a non-transgender broken leg? Or is it that transgender people are susceptible to breaking more limbs than non-transgender people? Some military personnel, of course, have desk jobs: perhaps those pesky, costly transgenders are just way too careless and stacking up a disproportionate number of paper cuts.
Again: if 2,450 people – presumably spread thinly throughout US domestic and overseas bases as well as its range of armed services – can disrupt the military to such an extent that they have to be excluded from it, imagine what New Zealand could do. That country has around 7,000 people in its army alone, some three times as many personnel as there are “disruptive transgenders” in the US. Why, if it chose to deploy, New Zealand could probably disupt the whole USA to a standstill in a couple of weeks. Luxembourg, with a national armed force of around 450, could wreak havoc in Washington in an afternoon.
The Twittersphere awaits Trump’s next random remarks. As for the transgender people just made jobless by the stroke of a Tweet – they may need to introduce their President to the concept of the rule of law.