Trump Administration Compares Being Transgender to Heart Disease During Military Ban Hearing

I'm sure many of us were watching Cohen's testimony on Wednesday and didn't notice that the House Armed Services Subcommittee on Military Personnel also held a hearing about Trump's transgender military ban, in which two committee members compared being transgender to having a disease while defending the ban, according to C-Span.

One member, James N. Stewart, who is performing the responsibilities of Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness, attempted to justify the ban by saying that it's not really a ban and only affects people who suffer from gender dysphoria and does not target transgender people at all. Vice Admiral Raquel Bono also defended the ban, saying that there were medical justifications. 

One of the arguments that Stewart made is that he feels that transgender people are given exceptions to the rules because, as he says, "We have other illnesses – or other conditions out there, that basically do not have the benefits associated with direct access to the military… if I had a surgery on the outside it would be disqualifying to bring that individual in under current standards" and that it would not be the case for "a heart condition or something else." Raquel Bono defended that claim by saying that transgender people will require extra care because of their gender dysphoria and are therefore unfit for active duty. 

Bono argued that transgender service members cost the military more money than necessary because they require more behavioral therapy visits, but Susan Davis, a representative from Massachusetts, said that such visits are mandatory, making Bono's argument pointless and disingenuous. 

Except for Representative Trent Kelly, a Republican from Mississippi, only the Democratic representatives asked questions relating to the ban, many of which dismantled Stewart and Bono's claims. Lori Trahan, another representative from Massachusetts, commented that it is three times more expensive to train a pilot in the Air Force than it is to provide transition-related medical service across the military for one year. Additionally, many members of the committee noted that every major medical organization rejected the ban, blowing the argument that transgender people aren't medically fit to serve out of the water. 

Representative Anthony Brown of Maryland was particularly heated when he asked Stewart if a transgender person who has undergone transition surgery and does not experience gender dysphoria if they can enlist. Stewart's response was short, with him just saying "no" to which Brown retorted with "That is the ban. That is the ban!"

Comparing transgender people to people who suffer from health conditions such as heart disease is an effective way to show that the Trump administration does not understand gender identity and, as such, should not have a say in whether or not transgender people should be allowed to serve in the military. Judging by Stewart's "no," it is safe to assume that this ban has nothing to do with gender dysphoria and everything to do with discrimination. 


h/t: C-Span

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