Military Service Knows No Gender

From the Kavanaugh scandal to the growing appreciation movement for Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, to the court’s most recent ruling in favor of the transgender military ban, there is never a dull moment in the nation’s highest court. On Tuesday, January 22nd, the Supreme Court agreed with a 5-4 majority to enforce the ban against transgender people in the military while the order returns to the 9th Circuit courts for further speculation.

The ban dubbed the “Mattis Plan” after former Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, includes a series of detailed restrictions that dictate who can serve in the US military on the basis of their gender identity, claiming gender identity affects one’s ability to serve effectively and productively. The Pentagon released a statement claiming they will continue to operate under the Defense Department’s 2016 policy enacted by the Obama administration, which allows for active military participation regardless of gender and sexuality. The implementation of the Mattis Plan, however, serves as a major blow to US inclusion policies and activists who have been working toward making the United States a more accepting nation.

It is mind-boggling that government officials, or anyone for that matter, can make an unsupported judgment on someone’s ability to serve their country based on how they identify and express their gender. It is essentially the same as ostracizing left-handed people and claiming they are “possessed by the devil,” solely based on a part of their identity they have no control over. This idea used to be deemed acceptable and is now viewed as archaic and vulgar. The general population has come to realize that dexterity is simply the result of our neurobiology.

And despite common misconception – and, at times misinformation – gender identity is not a choice and is as much ingrained in who we are from the day we were born as the hand with which we write. Just as some great soldiers have been left-handed, plenty of transgender people have served in the United States military with valor and efficiency, proving to be vital members of war and defense effort.

It brings me deep sadness that institutionalized hatred is still commonplace in the United States, and that I no longer find myself surprised to learn about the passage of yet another exclusionary policy. I know change and progress take time, but events of the past few years leave me pessimistic for the future. For the entirety of Trump’s administration, the president has dedicated his time to undoing Obama’s policies of inclusion, and has essentially made a game out of doing everything possible to upset the “liberal democrats” he speaks about with such distaste. Trump’s presidency represents an era of exclusion, and it will take great effort to reverse such hateful policies. My hope for the future is that it will become self-evident that no one’s worth, validity or ability to contribute their talents to benefit our world is in any way diminished by their gender, sexuality, race, religion, or any other aspect of their identity.