Trump was left with no middle ground on transgender issue
Monday, July 31, 2017
Bart Stinson - Guest Columnist
Washington is in an uproar about the president's decision last week to exclude transgendered people from military service. The president expected a fight, but is surprised at the opposition from conservative, pro-military Republicans. I'm surprised, too.
The 2015 U.S. Transgender Survey of 27,715 respondents nationwide reported 39 percent experienced serious mental problems in the previous month, based on the Kessler 6 Psychological Distress Scale. That compares with five percent of Americans overall. Seven percent of the transgender respondents attempted suicide in the previous year, 12 times the overall national rate.
But the Obama Pentagon announced last summer that transgendered people could serve openly, that it would fund sex-change surgeries within the military's healthcare budget, and that it was working on a plan to recruit new transsexuals.
I believe the Family Research Council's Peter Sprigg conducted the best study of the fiscal impact of that new policy. He calculated the total cost over the next 10 years as $1.88 billion at best, and $3.7 billion at worst, without assuming any inflation.
I believe the higher forecast is the more likely one – and for the record, $3.7 billion could buy 39 F-35 fighter jets at $94 million apiece, or 123 CH-47 "Chinook" helicopters at $30 million a pop.
Rep. Vicky Hartzler (R-Missouri) introduced a budget amendment prohibiting sex-change medicine in the military. The deployment of transgenders is hampered not merely by surgical recovery time, but by indefinite and expensive hormone treatments.
"It makes no sense to create soldiers who are unable to fight and win our nation's wars," Hartzler argued. But she lost that vote earlier this month after 24 Republicans crossed over to vote with the Democrats against her bill.
This deprived President Trump of the middle ground. He either had to accept all the medical demands and organizational risks of transgender privilege, or exclude transgenders altogether. I believe he made the only decision a conscientious commander-in-chief could have made.
Angry television commentators said a 2016 Rand Corporation report put the medical costs issue to rest. It calculated the net increase in medical costs at no more than $8.4 million annually.
But that 2016 report's language is so unequivocal that it's obvious it was written to specification for the Obamists who signed the checks and wanted a green light for their transgender policy.
Scientific American chimed in online, citing the Rand study and noting that its calculations were corroborated by a 2015 study published in the New England Journal of Medicine. I looked it up.
The author of the NEJM article, Dr. Aaron Belkin, estimated that military sex-change medical services would cost taxpayers $5.6 million per year. He wrote that the cost is "too low to warrant consideration in the current policy debate."
But his prose seemed a little breezy, and his methodology lacked the air-tight rigor that you ordinarily expect in the New England Journal. It turns out that he is not a medical doctor. His PhD is in political science, and he is a gay activist – he's director of the Palm Center, a San Francisco-based "research" institute he founded to support the repeal of the military's "don't ask, don't tell" policy.
On his own website, he identifies himself as a "scholar, author, activist and dancer." One year, he was grand marshal of San Francisco's LGBT Pride Parade. He is in the business of persuading, rather than factual investigation.
In fact, he has written a how-to guide for leftist influencers: How We Won: Progressive Lessons from the Repeal of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell."
According to a Huffington Post review, the lessons of Belkin's campaign "could help progressives persuade the public about the merits of other big, liberal ideas, including the benefits of higher taxes and the dangers of an excessively strong military."
I'd say they're off to a great start.
Bart Stinson resides in Evansville, Indiana, and is a columnist for The Press-Dispatch, a community newspaper in Petersburg, Indiana. He writes a weekly column called "Lucid Moments."
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