Myths About Transgender People in the Military

There has been a lot of controversy concerning transgender people in the military, but the facts don't lie.

Allowing transgender people in the military to serve openly has been an issue for this nation for many years. The "Don't ask, don't tell" policy was only recently lifted, and trans people quickly saw Trump calling to have the ban reinstated. Thankfully, the Justice Department has just ruled that the United States government cannot keep trans people out of the military, but there are still a lot of myths concerning the issue that need to be busted. 

"Having transgender people in the military would be too costly."

This is the biggest argument people who oppose transgender recruits have, and it's not valid. Yes, having transgender people in the military service would incur some costs, but not nearly as many as Trump would have you believe. In fact, the US military would end up spending less money on transgender recruits' medical bills than it currently spends on erectile dysfunction

"Transgender people disrupt unit cohesion."

When Trump said that he wanted to reinstate the ban on transgender people in the military in 2017, one of the major arguments for his cause was that transgender recruits would disrupt unit cohesion. Basically, they would be a distraction to their fellow soldiers and therefore a detriment to combat effectiveness. Well, research has found that 20 percent of the transgender population has served in the military, so it doesn't look like they've been much of a distraction, does it?

"There are too many transgender people for the military to take care of."

Out of a military population of 1.2 million, transgender people only account for roughly 10,000. Of course, this is an estimation by the RAND corporation as no one knows the hard numbers for certain, but that is still a small percentage. The amount of transgender individuals to serve in the military is, therefore, totally manageable. 

"All transgender people seek gender reassignment surgery."

This is a huge myth about transgender people in general, not just transgender people in the military. Just because someone's gender identity is different than that of their biological sex, doesn't mean they will seek to transition surgically. This serves to further dismantle the idea that transgender recruits would be too costly for the military to support. 

"Transgender people detract from military preparedness."

Not only did Trump argue that transgender recruits would distract cisgender recruits and disrupt unit cohesion, but also that they would detract from overall military preparedness. If they were allowed to remain in the military, their medical needs would take away from the military's focus and would therefore interfere with victory. 

Wrong.

"Allowing transgender people to serve would decrease US military might."

The idea that transgender people in the military would take away from the US's overall military might is completely unfounded; the Defense Department has said so themselves. Not only do they work well with their cisgender peers, but they sometimes out-perform them. So not only do transgender recruits not detract from military might—they improve it. 

"The military thinks transgender people are a burden."

While some individuals might think so, the Joint Chiefs of Staff do not. In the wake of Trump's 2017 tweets concerning transgender people in the military, Chair Joseph Dunford said that he and his colleagues would continue to support and respect trans people as they deserve. In fact, the Joint Chiefs of Staff were never made aware of the President's plans to reinstate the ban in the first place. 

"Transgender is mental illness."

The American Psychological Association does not define being transgender as a mental illness. Its former classification as a "gender identity disorder" has been changed to "gender dysphoria." What that means is that transgender people in the military are not automatically a mental health risk. Besides, they have to go through mental health screening just like anybody else before they are officially recruited to the military.

"Transgender people can't serve as well."

We mentioned earlier that the US Defense Department sees no problems in the way that trans people perform, but just to prove the point even more, other countries have reported similarly on the matter. The RAND report found that Australia, Canada, Israel and the United Kingdom did not notice any negative impact on their armed forces as a result of allowing transgender individuals to serve. 

"Banning transgender people from the military is the right thing to do for our country."

Given all of the overwhelming evidence, transgender people in the military are clearly not a threat to our country and its military, but an asset. They are talented individuals just like anyone else and can contribute just as much. The only thing banning transgender people from the military would do is further divide the United States and feed the hatred and prejudice that exists. 

Dr. Ethan Levi
Dr. Ethan Levi

He is a published writer with a doctorate in philosophy who challenges literally everything and everyone. Dr. Levi strongly identifies with punk music and despises elitism. He has an affinity for flannel.

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Myths About Transgender People in the Military