Muscular transgender man
Yes, this man is transgender

I do not want to waste time or keystrokes on the Scott Thomas Beauchamp controversy. He is a former army private who filed stories with the New Republic from Iraq that turned out to be fabricated. You can read about the saga here.

The same Scott Beauchamp is apparently the author of this polemic at the (ultra orthodox Catholic) Witherspoon Institute’s blog. The piece is titled: “Parallel Societies: How the American Military and Civilian Worlds Parted Ways.” It is not a very good piece. I find it to be rambling and inconsistent. The first 60% or so leads up to:

Is Trans the New Black?

Reverse-engineering the structural reasons for trans-inclusion in the military give us context, but some practical points of comparison for how the trans issue differs from race are in order. Avoiding the complex and fraught argument over the normativity of transsexuality, the numbers alone present a quantitative issue. Roughly 0.3 percent of the population identifies as trans. Roughly 13 percent of the population is African American. Race is a broader category, but individually stable from birth. Biological sex (putting aside the anomalies too rare to build bureaucratic policy on) exists along a binary but its external manifestations can, with hormones and surgery, be altered. Taking the time and effort to tailor rules to a minuscule population whose gender identity is, theoretically, constantly in flux isn’t necessarily a wise use of resources. In that regard, I suppose, using taxpayer money to finance the transitional surgeries of trans soldiers fits with the recent tradition of profligate Pentagon spending. But that doesn’t make it wise.

Is trans the new black? is a rhetorical question that need not — that should not — be answered. It is irrelevant. The highlighted cite is to a piece by Walt Heyer. Heyer is a professional victim of a bad transgender transition which he
reversed (I guess partially). Heyer had sex reassignment surgery about
34 years ago at about 42 years of age. He had the surgery reversed about
eight years later. Heyer is representative of nothing that is pertinent today. Moreover, he had surgery much later in life than most transgender people who elect to have gender affirming surgery.

Beauchamp’s take isn’t very informed. He seems to assign gender dysphoria to physical attributes resulting from medications or surgery. The point is that transgender people live with the absolute certainty that their gender is the opposite of their biological sex. The condition exists irrespective of treatment. It’s an important distinction because transgender citizens should not be defined by cosmetic changes. In other words, they are not transgender because they present as the opposite sex. Rather, they are transgender because (according to the APA) the are the opposite sex.

Then Beauchamp selectively ignores the normalcy of transgender people while implying that they are abnormal. The simple fact is that trans people have a condition as opposed to a disorder. They are perfectly normal in every respect and, in context with the piece, they perform tasks as well as anyone else.

Beauchamp is probably correct that about 0.3% of the population are transgender (which is an over-simplification) but that cuts both ways. Accommodating such a small percentage of the population should not be very difficult.

Mr. Beauchamp relies on economic logic to disparage trans people serving in the military. Yet, this piece is provided by an Opus Dei outlet. So which is it — the associated costs or the religious objection? Furthermore, Beauchamp fails to provide important perspective; how those costs compare to the overall expense of recruiting and training a new service member.

Leading up to the racial desegregation of the military, it was a sad fact that equally qualified people were working according to different sets of rules. There was one set of professional criteria for black soldiers, and one for white. As an organization, the military had to go out of its way to enforce this bifurcation. The morality in Truman’s executive order leveled the field and normalized equality. The way that trans soldiers are being integrated works in the opposite way—creating a special set of rules and circumstances for a minuscule minority of troops. This is especially apparent when subsidized surgeries are taken into account.

Utter nonsense. Fabrication. Transgender service members expect to be treated in accordance with their gender. It is one set of rules. Furthermore Beauchamp is suggesting that a surgery for psychological reasons is of less value than surgery for physical reasons. My shooting left me with physical and mental issues. My treatment for PTSD (and its constellation of manifestations) has no less importance or dignity than my prosthetic hip which replaced the hopelessly shattered structure.

Racial and trans integration were also implemented in different ways. There were studies and surveys undertaken before racial integration to ensure that morale wouldn’t be affected. One in particular found that 77 percent of respondents had a more positive attitude of African American soldiers after serving with them, and over 80 percent believed that African American soldiers had performed well in combat. No similar surveys were taken before integrating trans soldiers.

Beauchamp grossly oversimplifies the survey and another report notes “stiff resistance” and “inferior intelligence” of African-American personnel. However, there is a broader difference. African-Americans served in large numbers in the military due to a nondiscriminatory enlistment policy. That is not true of transgender personnel who were barred from service. There is no way of assessing attitudes towards personnel that, for the most part, do not exist.

That said, as an infantry veteran myself, I would have had no problem serving next to anyone brave and selfless enough to fight beside me. Bravery and courage aren’t the issue here. Transgender soldiers are twice as likely to enlist as the general population and it would be a waste of resources to root them out.

Agreed. So what on earth is all this about?

The way trans soldiers have been integrated into the military is a troubling symptom of a deep rift between the military and the country it defends. It would be wrong to interpret the inclusion of transgender soldiers in the military as some open-armed embrace of the average citizen by a populist organization. It’s actually indicative of the opposite trend: a coterie of political elites, having partitioned the military from the citizenry, have turned the military into their own private dollhouse. Whether or not their intentions are well-meaning is beside the point. If the military were fully integrated into the body of mainstream American culture, then the institution could truly embody the values and strengths of our society—not the foibles of Kant’s out-of-touch, upper-class hunting party.

I don’t buy a word of it. He would have no problem serving with proficient trans troops but doesn’t like their presence as service members because of how they were enlisted and integrated into the services? That’s like saying “I have no problem serving with Jews — just don’t let them enlist unless they convert.”

Then, exactly who are these “elites” he is referring to? Are transgender service personnel not being integrated into the military on the same basis that they are being integrated into society? Or does religion have something to do with all of this? (I remain mindful of the outlet that is providing this piece.) Apparently Beauchamp’s notion of “values and strengths” does not include the American commitments to inclusion and diversity. It’s a rather regressive and unenlightened worldview. If that makes me an elite then I will embrace the distinction.

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By David Cary Hart

Retired CEO. Formerly a W.E. Deming-trained quality-management consultant. Now just a cranky Jewish queer. Gay cis. He/Him/His.