Should transsexuals be allowed in the military? A politically agnostic veteran’s perspective

Note: I served in the U.S. Air Force from 2000-2007. My job code was 3C0X1 (Communications computer systems operator). My highest rank was E-5 (Staff Sergeant), and I received an honorable discharge.

On July 26, 2017, president Trump Tweeted, “After consultation with my Generals and military experts, please be advised that the United States Government will not accept or allow Transgender individuals to serve in any capacity in the U.S. Military. 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. Thank you.” The typos are Trump’s, not mine.

This is a bold, historic decision on a philosophically profound topic that is going to cause a lot of heated arguments, and most of them will overlook the nuance of all the issues involved.

For starters, how can we have an academic discussion about this, when Donald Trump didn’t make his decision based on rigorous academic analysis? He just thought it would make his supporters happy and keep his opponents distracted while he does even more absurd things. It’s sad that Trump made America have this conversation in this way and that Fox News is going to continue to frame the debate in an impossibly unproductive way.

To make things more confusing, both sides are both a little bit right and a little bit wrong, but the biggest problems caused by having transsexuals in the military, exist because of deeper rooted flaws in America’s government and military. So splitting hairs over this issue distracts attention from the real problem more than it achieves social justice.

Trump and his generals were wrong to ban any man who wants to rock a pixie cut, but they were correct that the logistical cost/benefit analysis of paying for transgender soldiers’ treatments, doesn’t add up. There are valid reasons why this is inhumane, but the purpose of the military is to kill people.

It’s easier to become an officer with a degree in engineering than psychology because officers aren’t there to worry about their subordinate’s journey to self-actualization. An officer’s job is to calculate risks, formulate plans and be as emotionless as possible while sending their troops to their deaths.

The military already treats troops in ways that violate the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and America’s own employee protection laws. The military views and treats its troops like disposable numbers, not human beings. So getting your snowflake print panties in a twist over it being unfair that the military isn’t sensitive to the needs of transsexuals, is like being offended that an indifferent, sin-eating death machine didn’t invite you to its birthday party.

If you’re just now getting angry that the military doesn’t care about people’s feelings, then you must be too privileged and sheltered to have ever seen the reality of war or how the U.S. military works.

If you’re going to be pissed about how the military treats the troops, focus that anger towards the fact that the Uniform Code of Military Justice strips troops of their basic human rights and the military operates exactly like a cult with a Colonial caste system.

Regardless of whether my description of the military is true, and even if it is and could be fixed, war is still a battle of resources, and every decision requires a cost/benefit analysis of how to spend money. Troops cost hundreds of thousands of dollars to train and equip.

On top of that, troops have access to 100% nationalized healthcare. All of their essential medical needs are completely free, and the more they get hurt on the job, the more free healthcare they’ll receive after leaving the military. You can even qualify for a medical discharge with free healthcare for life, for certain non-service-related medical problems.

Under this system, any transsexual who joins the military would be automatically guaranteed free healthcare for life. As expensive as sex changes are, it would be stupid for every transsexual to not try to get an administrative job in the Air Force at a stateside base.

The military budget is already so large it’s bankrupting the country. This is not the time to lower entry standards to accommodate anyone who is more expensive to provide medical care to.

Troops are a massive financial investment, which makes them a liability to the bottom line of the war effort. This is why you have to go undergo a full medical physical before enlisting. The cost/benefit analysis of accepting people with high health risks doesn’t add up.

This is why people with flat feet aren’t allowed to enlist. Nobody has ever protested about that blatant instance of discrimination because everyone collectively shrugged their shoulders and said, “Yeah, people who can’t walk long distances probably wouldn’t make good long distance walkers.”

If you’d ever been to a war zone, you wouldn’t think you’re helping transsexuals by opening that “opportunity” to them. War is the most stressful experience a human being can go through. It’s so profoundly difficult, recruits have to be mentally broken and psychologically reprogrammed to accept the absurdity of their actions. Even then, or because of it, the suicide rate of veterans is above average.

The suicide rate of transsexuals is already higher than normal as well. The worst place in the world for them to successfully transition their mind and body, is in a war zone, where they’ll be struggling to hold onto their humanity under the stress of constant fear and loss, and living in a totalitarian cult that views them as a disposable liability.

Fighting to get transsexuals in the military isn’t doing cis gender troops any favors either. Every soldier needs to be as clear-headed and focused as possible. Nobody on the battlefield should be on any kind of pill or injection that alters their mind and mood. When failure is not an option, it would be irresponsible to everyone, to allow a transitioning transgender to fight. Keeping them out of harm’s way would be the most humane thing to do for them and everyone else.

I would have supported Trump if he said that, but he’s obviously an opportunistic bigot who would throw his own mother under a bus if it got a cheer from a crowd. He did raise an interesting point he didn’t realize though. If the best military strategy is to minimize the expense of troops, then it would be more efficient if women were either not allowed in the military, or served on segregated bases.

Females’ medical costs and risks are higher than men. And they have the option to separate from the military when they have a child. If every member of the military had that option, it would make warfare impossible and defeat the purpose of the dishonorable discharge, since everyone would have a legitimate way to get out of the military in nine months.

Plus, women are physically weaker than men. Female troops have lower fitness and grooming standards than men, which means tax payers are spending more money to put weaker, more vulnerable soldiers on the battlefield who can quit with a year’s notice at any time.

Yes, women have proven themselves more than capable in combat, but if we look at women as numbers, you could put more men on the battle field for less money with less risk of having to take them out for medical issues. From that point of view, the cost/benefit analysis of having female soldiers doesn’t add up.

So if we’re going to ban transsexuals from serving because of the high cost, the logic follows that we should do the same to women. If we accept the higher cost and liability of female soldiers, then why not transsexuals?

It was completely unnecessary for Trump to ban transsexuals from serving in any capacity in the military. Every base has hotels that are staffed by civilian contractors, who don’t get free medical care. To deny transsexuals the opportunity to change pillow cases at Minot Air Force Base in North Dakota, is cut-and-dry Jim Crow-style oppression.

We wouldn’t be going down this moral rabbit hole at all if every single American civilian had the same access to healthcare as the troops, Congress and the president. Unfortunately, that solution would be too expensive under America’s current health care system, in which insurance companies have inflated medical costs beyond affordability.

However, if the American government passed regulation making healthcare less expensive instead of less attainable, we could easily afford to cover everyone’s medical needs by nationalizing the health care industry completely or by rationing a set amount of free care each year. Then cost wouldn’t be a barrier to transsexuals, or anyone else with medical conditions, serving in the military.

Another reason we can’t afford to provide tax payers with unlimited access to health care is because we’re spending so much money on the military to wage perpetual war in the most financially inefficient way possible. America’s industrial war complex is a cash cow bloated with fraud, waste and abuse.

If you’re worried about how much money it costs to send a transsexual soldier to a war zone, you would be mortified to learn how much it costs to send a healthy civilian contractor. Transsexuals are the least of the military’s budget problems. It’s losing money through a sieve everywhere it has boots on the ground.

The biggest money trails lead to the blue chip defense companies like Raytheon, Boeing, Lockheed Martin, General Dynamics and Northrop Grumman. So if you’re truly passionate about saving military money and lives, then you should be screaming to get defense money out of politics.

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Floyd Mayweather vs. Conor McGregor: A cautionary tale

I don’t follow sports. I don’t like pop culture, and I don’t approve of normalizing violence. So you’d think I wouldn’t watch The Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC). However, I do value setting goals, pushing yourself beyond what you thought possible, physical fitness and the spirit of competition. For those reasons, the UFC is the only sport I watch.

If I were a dictator, I would replace all high school sports with chess and mixed martial arts competitions. This would replace the “us vs. them” indoctrination of the youth with a “me vs. my best” mentality. Plus, it would teach students a useful skill: how to defend themselves.

This would be useful to every individual, and it would create a nation-wide atmosphere of mutually assured destruction, which sounds sinister on the surface, but if you knew everyone has been trained in hand-to-hand combat, you’d think twice about abusing others.

I don’t believe systemic martial arts training would encourage violence, because the core philosophy of martial arts is personal responsibility, not wanton destruction. Granted, the UFC does reward cinematic violence, but the motivating philosophy behind martial arts is inherently more profound than any ball-centric sport.

So even though my first reaction to the UFC many years ago was negative, I quickly came to appreciate the change it could bring to professional sports. Now I hate to say it, but my opinion of the UFC took a major hit in the past month because of how the UFC is promoting the fight between Floyd Mayweather and Conor McGregor,which will take place on August 26, 2017.

Before I get into that, I’ll explain the backstory on the fight. Floyd Mayweather is a retired, forty year old American boxing champion, who has never fought in professional mixed martial arts competitions. Conor McGregor is a twenty nine year old Irish MMA champion who has never fought in a professional boxing competition. McGregor is going to fight Mayweather in a boxing match, which makes the conflict complicated, since it’s one champion past his prime fighting a younger opponent outside of his element.

The whole competition is an unapologetic promotional stunt for the UFC, but I’m reluctantly fine with that if it draws people away from vapid ball-centric sports to mixed martial arts. However, the UFC has been hosting promotional events where Mayweather and McGregor talk juvenile shit to each other in front of hysterical fans. And their trash talking is bad. It’s really bad.

I know neither competitor really believes what they’re saying. They’re trying to psyche each other out to gain an advantage in the fight, and with tens of millions of dollars on the line, they both have legitimate motive to take their pre-game fight to the highest level.

I also know that both fighters are brands, trying to sell their product to the public audience. From the cosmic perspective, there’s no reason for customers to care about their rivalry.  So they have to create human interest. The Olympics does the exact same thing when they produce segments about the athletes’ life stories before events. They’re mind-fucking you into caring about the outcome of people doing pointless shit.

I’m convinced the organizers of the Olympics were inspired to do that by watching professional wrestling, which invented the art of using story-telling techniques to get their audience emotionally invested in a meaningless competition between two people they don’t know.

Think about your favorite movie. The hero isn’t even real, but you connect with him/her so much that you feel their pain, fear, hope and joy so vividly you’ll pay money to experience those emotions over and over again. Why? Because watching a human go through the stages of accomplishing a goal, excites the same regions of your brain that are stimulated when you achieve a goal in real life. On some physical level, you truly live vicariously through Luke Skywalker as he fights Darth Vader and saves the galaxy.

Since Mayweather and McGregor’s fight is utterly unimportant in comparison to all the real wars going on in the world right now, they have to get inside their audience’s minds and take them on “the hero’s journey” to make them care enough about them to pay to see how their story ends.

The more Mayweather and McGregor offend each other, and hype themselves up, the more it raises the stakes in their story. Therefore, it raises the tension. Therefore, it feels more real and important to the audience, even if it’s just flickers on a screen. If Mayweather and McGregor do their job right, people will be jumping out of their seats and crumpling to the floor at the end of the fight, even though the outcome has no real world significance.

I grew up in a consumer culture. I understand the need to promote the product your’e selling, but the UFC used to promote their fighters more like the Olympics than the WWE. Granted, McGregor isn’t the first UFC fighter to earn a reputation acting over-dramatic and playing the emotionally magnetic villain card, but Mayweather vs. McGregor took the shtick to a whole lower level. They abandoned all the dignity of self-restraint, respect for your opponent and appreciation for life that is the hallmark of martial arts.

To take things to an even lower level, their juvenile behavior wasn’t done in spite of the UFC’s standards of conduct. The CEO, Dana White, has encouraged cinematic aggression in the participants of his TV show, The Ultimate Fighter, for years.

I know Dana White is a fight promoter. He’s the Michael Bay of professional sports, which is why he was able to grow MMA fighting from a disrespected basement league to a mainstream professional sport. That’s admirable, but in a world dying from stupidity, I hoped the UFC would legitimize mixed martial arts as a higher art form than G.L.O.W., but Dana White abandoned any pretense of that with the Mayweather/McGregor fight.

Truthfully, I shouldn’t have expected Dana White to bring any more integrity to MMA than Michael Bay brought to the Transformers brand, but Mayweather vs. McGregor has already done to MMA, what Michael Bay did to Transformers.

The moral of the story is, I hate watching my culture die, and I just saw another rerun. #FML

 


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