Social media outrage erupted Wednesday after President Trump announced his decision to reinstate a ban on transgender individuals in the military. But as many condemned the move as discriminatory, another widely overlooked sentiment is far more pressing: the ban didn’t go far enough. Everyone should be banned from the military.
Though military service is often regarded as the highest form of patriotism and the institution and its veterans are considered by many Americans to be immune from criticism — and owed unquestioning respect — the facts on the ground paint a very different picture.
Over the decades, the United States military has killed hundreds of thousands, if not millions of innocent civilians. This is not to imply that those choosing to risk their lives do not deserve respect, simply that the institution manipulating these individuals (using patriotism and propaganda) and its hegemonic agenda are the embodiment of what is currently wrong with this country. This isn’t an honorable opportunity that should be extended to all variations of Americans. It should be extended to none.
This doesn’t mean it isn’t noble to advocate tolerance and equality for transgender individuals. Societal discrimination and phobia of transgender individuals are real, and as trans individuals struggle to gain recognition as human beings, it is a valiant effort to recognize their plight and their humanity.
But to argue that doing so requires equal access to military service is to deny the humanity of other human beings. In the Trump era, over 2,000 civilians have already been killed in U.S. military operations. His secretary of defense, General James “Mad Dog” Mattis, has made it clear he is unconcerned with civilian casualties, and a recent report found as many as 40,000 civilians were killed in the recent months-long battle for Mosul – one ultimately deemed a “liberation” by the military and its media lapdogs (though not all the deaths were caused by the U.S. military, ISIS’ domination of Iraq in the first place is a direct consequence of U.S. military operations).
This type of carnage was commonplace under Barack Obama, who received glowing praise for his “tolerant” policy toward transgender individuals in the military as he blew up wedding parties and funerals in Yemen and directly caused the deaths of children in multiple countries while escalating the war in Afghanistan. He drew the U.S. military into even more countries than George W. Bush with the drone program, exponentially expanding robotic warfare.
But it isn’t just presidents who have made the military a moral dumpster fire.
The ruling establishment in the U.S. military has punished soldiers who objected to their Afghan allies raping children. It has been responsible for the loss of weapons that ended up in the hands of ISIS. It strategically desired the proliferation of that terror group for the purpose of gaining geopolitical dominance in the region. The military’s soldiers have killed journalists — as exposed by transgender former soldier Chelsea Manning. Soldiers have tortured individuals never charged with a crime. They have terrorized and murdered innocent women and children.
Further, the military’s top ally in the Middle East brutally oppresses trans individuals domestically.
This is not a concern for the U.S. military, which has military officials in the command room of the Saudi military’s operations in Yemen, where thousands of civilians have been slaughtered or forced to the brink of starvation because of the Saudis’ unrelenting assaults on infrastructure and agriculture. Their war there is largely intended to strengthen the monarchy’s power in the region — the same monarchy that “has carried out arrests for cross-dressing and ordered the imprisonment and flogging of men accused of behaving like women, according to the U.S.-based Human Rights Watch,” Newsweek has noted.
All of this serves not only to preserve American hegemony and control of resources, but to keep profits flowing for massive military-industrial conglomerations like Boeing, Lockheed Martin, and Raytheon, who currently have officials making calls in the Pentagon (American defense companies are also selling the Saudis weapons they use in their assault on Yemen).
The American crusade is not a humane one and has no place for individuals fighting for their own humanity or the betterment of mankind — and it hasn’t been for decades.
Rather than begging a violent institution to validate trans individuals, Americans — regardless of sexual identity — should ban themselves from joining a military that has become a force for corporate hegemony, resource grabs, and war crimes around the world, rather than a force for freedom. Doing so would do far more to promote the cause of universal acceptance than indulging in jingoistic nationalism behind the barrels of guns and joysticks of remote-controlled bombers and calling it progress.