By Nathan Barton
(See part 1) Sometimes, maybe the standards can change. Often that is because technology and tactics change. Being allergic to horses used to be a serious problem and would get you down-checked. Not so much a problem anymore. Once upon a time a soldier had to have near perfect teeth (to tear open the little packages of gunpowder to pour into your musket. Today you can have a few fillings and maybe even a missing tooth, because you don’t have to load muskets anymore.
There are some things that can be accommodated, and there are some jobs that can accept people with certain problems – but less than you might think. A military force exists for just one thing, to wage war. It should be limited to defensive war, but such war is no less physically, emotionally, and morally demanding than offensive war and worldwide interventions.
Robert Heinlein pointed this out in Starship Troopers. Yes, anyone, even a quadriplegic, could volunteer for public service and win citizenship. But there was no place for being in military uniform that did not come with very stringent requirements that had to be met – and then was tested in training in which many (even most) were washed out.
Today, in our politically-correct but severely damaged society, where the military has been used as some sort of social-engineering field laboratory for decades, under both Democrats and Republicans, it doesn’t seem to work that way.
Instead of establishing and enforcing standards, we seem to be willing to water the standards down until anyone and everyone who ‘wants to’ can be anything that they want to be. In some things (like Special Forces and even Infantry), the process has not yet reached the end of the path, but it gets closer every year.
Now, specifically dealing with transgendered persons. The evidence seems pretty clear that those who have really had the conversion of their body from one sex to another are highly dependent on drugs and frequent medical monitoring (by specialists) to maintain their condition. They also appear to be very susceptible to many physical disorders and diseases. That means that virtually any kind of deployment (regardless of service) either becomes very difficult or incredibly hard on the logistical pipeline – and so very dangerous to the transgender person. Even if they are willing to risk dying (as indeed all military personnel are assumed to be) and understand that if it a choice between their one life and the ammo to continue the fight, will that be acceptable to the public and their family? Or will it then turn into a court battle?
Those who have not completely converted from one sex to another pose serious problems for unit cohesion and other issues both in garrison and deployment. While those might be worked out – through even more loss of privacy and more strict enforcement (and punishment) of regulations – it will cost more and reduce military efficiency. (Which is already incredibly bad.) And honestly, given the fact that military discipline is far from perfect (otherwise we’d not have problems with adultery and looting and rape and other crimes), the risk to the transgender person is probably quite high.
But studies also show that transgenders, whether fully converted or not, usually have severe emotional and mental problems. Understandably, some of this might be due to social causes, but regardless of WHY they have the problems, many of those emotional and mental problems make them unsuitable for military service, at least in any critical and dangerous duty. This is not to demean them anymore than we should demean someone who is an amputee or overweight or of less than (or more than) normal height. Or who are born with other medical problems, such as diabetes or spina defida, or something else. It is just that life is NOT fair.
It would seem, a la Heinlein’s suggestion, that those transgender people who REALLY want to serve their country today would do far better if they could do so as civilians at stateside bases and posts, so that their needs could be met properly and without negatively impacting military preparedness.
Mama’s Note: Indeed true. Nobody has a “right” to needlessly endanger other people, and I know from experience that trying to accommodate those who are not qualified or even able to do the job does endanger everyone else present.
Transgender people are actually only a very small part of this problem, as their numbers are already small in the general population. But they have a very high rate of suicide and other mental health issues. Among all of the psycho-babble on the subject, however, more stringent requirements for military recruits are not even mentioned.