Walt Heyer, the king of religious conservative ass-kissing in the world of male detransition, has once again laid himself low in the interest of being a good, compliant “redeemed” freak (speaking as a fellow freak who has not found God’s light remotely helpful). His article addressing Trump’s tweets about a military ban on transgender people is exactly what one would expect: more ass-kissing.
Positioning state-sanctioned murder as an act of valor is hard to defend without resorting to nationalism for its own sake. Heyer certainly doesn’t feel the need to defend it any other way in this piece. He takes it for granted that supplying Donald Trump with the highest quality of soldiers not only is, but should be a top priority. Obviously, this is the function of the military. That’s an issue! If you don’t trust the government, it doesn’t make sense to valorize the military it trains into total compliance (using methods that would be described as cult-like in many contexts) and deploys according to the strategic goals of the state. That’s some bullshit.
The military is not our friend, and it is not an honor to be included. In theory, yeah, I would prefer Trump had no army to command. That’s not what Trump would prefer, though. Excluding a group from an institution he sees as grand isn’t anti-colonialism. It’s testing the waters in terms of what will be tolerated, and it’s going to be part of an on-going effort to scapegoat transgender people (among many, many others) in order to distract from other issues and drive a wedge to exploit in 2020.
This isn’t about our army being at its best. Transgender people have demonstrated clearly an ability to participate equally in the military. There may be times when a transgender member of the military can’t obtain treatments due to service conditions, or times when they aren’t eligible to serve due to treatments an individual may feel to be necessary. This could be true of anyone else who might consider service, too, though; none of us can be guaranteed a life free of medical or personal difficulties that might impact our ability to serve as a cog in the war machine.
The whole “it costs too much” thing Heyer brings up is dumb, too; Viagra is a much larger expense than transition for the Pentagon. Yeah, we could argue about whether transition is a consistently effective, ethical treatment, but it’s pretty clear that Trump didn’t make those tweets because he’s been reading a lot of detransition blogs and he’s concerned doctors might not have our best interests at heart.
Heyer also talks like the higher rates of suicidality in the trans population represent a threat to our nation’s “defense”. What? The US military already has a serious problem with suicide, even among soldiers who were never deployed. If that was an issue that was considered a high priority, you’d think it would have been addressed a little more effectively by now. With no data to support that transgender soldiers are any more likely to suffer from the 20-25% increase in suicide rate compared to the general population, it’s dishonest to act like that’s a solid reason to bar a group from service. The military itself is directly causing a shit ton of suicides (not to mention murdering people!).
The article also fails to address a pretty major concern about all this: how is “transgender” even going to be defined for the purpose of these proposed changes? Trump didn’t say, and it’s an incredibly nebulous term. It’s hard to imagine how someone seriously concerned about the needs of people who seek transition at some point in their life would fail to show any interest in the way that line is drawn.
Re: “the military is a fighting force, not a gender clinic”- yeah, it’s not a clinic, period. Yet VA hospitals are totally a thing. What gives? It’s almost like healthcare is a service contractually promised to members of the military!! Come on. Nobody’s saying we should be performing mastectomies in the trenches. But plenty of military members get all kinds of operations and treatments using money allocated for their medical care.
If he just wanted to talk about the ways he feels transition differs from other forms of care, that’s a conversation I feel is worth having. That isn’t enough, though. That conversation isn’t nearly as interesting to a lot of people. “The military is awesome and trans people are too crazy not to fuck it up” is a lot easier to get published so that you can get more traffic to your weird evangelical detransition website. Whatever, Walt! Damn! Whatever!