A reader asks:
I was curious to know whether you would be putting out a status update on Trump’s ban on transgender soldiers in the army. I found that it was difficult to do without lending encouragement to people who might be thinking undergoing gender reassignment surgery. I am enclosing below my effort at walking that tightrope in case it helps.
Trumps ban on trans people in the army feels to me like a form of discrimination. This is what the Catholic catechism (2358) says about how Catholics should relate to gay people. ‘They must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity. Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided.’ It seems then by implication that Catholics should not be celebrating Trump’s blanket ban on trans people in the army.
It’s one thing to sensitively encourage people to come to terms with their biological identity and discourage drastic steps. The more liberal among you may disagree, okay, fine, I think that you will agree that it’s wrong to encourage discrimination against that person once they have decided.
I don’t believe Trump’s implication that trans people would undermine the efficacity of their army. Yes, it requires some thought and could be distracting but it is surely possible to be effective without discrimination.
I have seen a number of Catholic articles which support the ban and I don’t find them convincing. They have several faults. One fault is that they rehearse the arguments as to why it’s not a good idea to become trans. These arguments are not directly relevant when the question at stake is how to relate to someone who already is trans or is making that decision.
Another fault is comparing the high suicide rate of trans people to that in the general population. This should not be used as an argument for more discrimination against trans people. It could shed light on a discussion on whether to encourage people to become trans, but you would have to compare the suicide rate with that of a group which felt trans but did not undergo surgery or medication. I haven’t seen data for that yet.
Basically, I think this is, like everything Trump does, playing to his base. A form, ironically, of “Christians to the lions!” He’s panicked about the Russia investigation, his administration is in chaos because he is an incompetent and an agent of chaos, and his numbers tanking, so he goes out and finds a despised minority that right wingers (including especially right wing Christians) loathe and want to punish and punishes them for being mentally ill. As one of my readers wrote: “Time to bust out the baseball bats to LGBTQXYZABC skulls. Huzzah! =).” Ah, the reliable sound of the Right Wing Trumpian Hive Mind.
The number of trans people in the military is vanishingly small and the ban does nothing beyond saying “Get a load of these weirdos!” And of course, it says “Screw you, Obama!” which all of his actions have done, even when attacking things Obama did that were, in fact, good.
I know people, Christian people, with family members who are wrestling with gender issues. They hear the message loud and clear from Christians salivating over this stuff and gleeful at the prospect of their children being punished and ostracized. The community that is supposed to be full of mercy and compassion for those in crisis, the mentally and emotionally compromised, etc are *the* poster children for spite and malice and scapegoating of the weak. It’s ugly. And they *adore* Trump for feeding their lust to punish and exile these folks. When the history of our time is written, right wing Christians who ignored the Church’s call for mercy and whored after Trump will not be the heroes.