The usual sharp-tongued bold names have weighed in since President Trump tweeted his out-of-the blue, ridiculous ban of transgender people in the military: Ellen DeGeneres, George Takei, Laverne Cox, St. Vincent, Candis Cayne, Mia Farrow, Andy Cohen, Zoe Kazan, Alyssa Milano—and the tweets just keep on coming. Even right wing Trump loyalist Caitlin Jenner made her disapproving voice heard.
But now a heavyweight Republican voice has joined the outrage against Trump’s trans tweets: the Chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, John McCain. Yeah, him—Mr. “Maverick”—who cast a decisive vote to move forward with the GOP’s “Repeal and Replace” healthcare debate and crushed the hopes of many that he would finally show he had a spine and stand up for what’s right. He of the government-insurance-paid-brain-cancer-surgery. Wonder if McCain read any of the vicious (and unmentionable) names liberals are calling him on social media? Let’s just say “maverick” definitely is NOT one of them. Could this outcry have motivated McCain to take an appropriate human rights position and release this statement today about the intended transgender military ban?
Here’s what’s in his seemingly switch-hitting statement:
“The Department of Defense has already decided to allow currently serving transgender individuals to stay in the military, and many are serving honorably today. Any American who meets current medical and readiness standards should be allowed to continue serving. There is no reason to force service members who are able to fight, train and deploy to leave the military – regardless of their gender identity. We should all be guided by the principle that any American who wants to save our country and is able to meet the standards should have the opportunity to do so – and should be treated as the patriots they are.”
McCain goes on to say the Department of Defense is currently conducting a study on whatever medical obligations could incur, and that he doesn’t believe any decision is appropriate until that study is complete. “The Senate Armed Services Committee will continue to follow closely and conduct oversight on the issue of transgender individuals serving in the military.” Yeah, McCain likes to see facts—but Trump wants to see blood.
Meanwhile, Fortune Magazine just published a RAND report from 2016 finding that the medical costs for transgender military members would be “an exceedingly small portion of active-component health care expenditures,” coming to an estimate of .005% to .017% of the Department of Defense’s overall health care costs. This sudden ban seems like much ado about little—no? So WTF?
There’s speculation that Trump’s twitter outburst against the estimated 1300 to 6200 transgender people in the military was a way of throwing a red-state-bone to his arch-conservative base. Others speculate that it’s a yet another tactic to distract from the true facts of the health care discussions in D.C. But the most likely theory is that it’s tied to the spending bill before Congress that will authorize funding for Trump’s border wall—a heartless horse trade designed to appease a handful of moralistic goons so that Trump can tell his rabid base he fulfilled his promises.
Let’s see if any other Republican Senators and Congress people come out against this seemingly arbitrary and Pence-like trans-in-the-military ban—maybe there’s time for McCain to be a real leader again after all.
News sources are already reporting that military top brass had no idea this was coming, but Trump hasn’t shied away from pissing off entire organizations of experienced, capable, ethical people before. John Oliver recently said on Stephen Colbert: “Trump just seems to keep getting away with anything!” Hmmm . . . well, he hasn’t taken on the gay community yet. Expect the LGBTs to bring real heat to this.