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John King’s Response to Towle Road Column

A couple of weeks ago in his column Towle Road reached into his grab bag of misinformed rationalizations to conclude, “not only should transgenders be removed from the military, they should never have been allowed to join the ranks in the first place. It’s a disruption that never should have occurred.” Towle Road goes on to say transgender people are “emotionally confused” and cannot be relied on by their fellow soldiers because of the possibility of “emotional instability”. Unit safety and morale will suffer.

Tony, this is a tired old argument that “never should have occurred”. Both you and I have been around long enough to have heard it at least twice before and both times it has been an empty argument, groundless fear mongering by those who are afraid of change.

My father was a Marine Corps veteran of WWII. He served in a segregated military that refused to integrate soldiers of color. Official policy at the time said:

The soldier on the battlefield deserves to have the utmost confidence in his fellow soldiers. They must eat together, sleep together and all too frequently die together. There can be no friction in their everyday living that might bring on failure in battle. The damage to unit morale that would occur by mixing the races would damage the unit’s mission.”

Indeed, both morale and mission suffered because of a segregated military. President Harry Truman ordered desegregation in 1948.

The other time we have heard the “unit safety and morale” argument was much more recently. Prior to the repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell (DADT) in 2010, the official military position argued that:

Homosexuality is incompatible with military service…The presence of such members adversely affects the ability of the armed forces to maintain discipline, good order and morale.” Morale is adversely affected “when they must live and work in close conditions affording minimal privacy.” At the time the military considered homosexuality to be a mental illness and used that pretext to dishonorably discharge gay soldiers.

All these claims were made without a shred of evidence and served only as a cover for gender bigotry. Today straights and gays are serving side by side honorably and sometimes heroically and the military is stronger because it is no longer living a lie.

The zombie “safety and morale” argument, after having been twice killed, is back again shuffling through the paragraphs of the Towle Road column. Tony, did you know that by one estimate, there are 15,000 trans people currently serving active and reserve in the military. That’s roughly equal to the population of Alexandria. Other estimates put the number lower. There is no way to know exactly because they are all in the closet. Obama’s executive order making it OK to be a trans soldier was halted by Trump the very month it was to go into effect. At any rate, there have always been large numbers of transgenders serving in the armed forces. They were there in Vietnam with you but I bet you didn’t know it. Are we to allow the military to live that lie again knowing they are recruiting transgender men and women and at the same time outlawing their presence in the military? I hope not.

Towle Road concludes his column by dismissing the whole thing as “politically correct” lefty stuff. I have never liked that term because of the mental laziness involved in using it. It is just a lazy way of distancing yourself from a problem without having to think about it. I think Towle Road can do better than that.

3 replies on “John King’s Response to Towle Road Column”

I served in the US Army, Dec 1961 – Aug 1967, based in Turkey, Shemya Island in the Alutitians. SE Asia, among other locations, on the ground, in the air and at sea for various times. Amomg those tours, I served with at least twice with transgender folks and I can assure you that they were not only good friends but were excellent individuals in all their duties and concret examples of service to our nation. I am proud to have known and served with them and to call them my friends.

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