After initially issuing a major military policy shift by tweet, Mad King Rump made it official the other day, albeit in a modified form. Transgender people will no longer be permitted to join the armed services, but those already serving may or may not be allowed to continue their service, to be determined perhaps on a case-by-case basis.
This is, of course, a terrible policy. To my knowledge, our cisgender troops are not rioting and demanding that their transgender comrades either be refused admission to the armed services or be tossed out on their asses if they’d already been admitted. But that makes no nevermind to Rump, whose mental stability is increasingly the subject of open discussion. (The moron was actually photographed staring directly at the sun during the solar eclipse, despite countless admonitions on TV not to do so. Sun King II may have thought he was looking in a mirror.)
Hell bent on disruption and chaos, Rump creates problems where none exists. His drag name should be All-Year-Not-Just-June Havoc.
Reason.com got it right for the most part. In the subhead to a piece written by A. Barton Hinkle, Reason puts the matter, well, reasonably: “Transgender individuals serve in the military, and will likely continue; Trump’s directive will be overturned in court or reversed by a future administration.”
Hinkle goes on to compare the bigoted new policy to the panics generated by the prospect of same-sex marriage and the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell: A year after the Supreme Court ruled in favor of marriage equality, he writes, “Time magazine reported [that] ‘The U.S. divorce rate dropped for the third year in a row, reaching its lowest point in nearly 40 years.’ Moreover: ‘Marriage rates, on the other hand, increased last year (to) the highest number of marriages since 2009, which suggests that marriage rates may be stabilizing after decades of decline.’
“This is not exactly what gay marriage opponents had predicted. To the contrary, they had predicted utter catastrophe: the degradation — and perhaps the complete destruction — of ‘the institution of’ marriage. ‘Weakening marital norms will hurt children and spouses, especially the poorest,’ went one common argument. Let same-sex couples wed, opponents warned, and pretty soon people would be marrying their horses, pedophilia would be encouraged, and polygamy would be rampant.”
Human-equine nuptials were indeed specifically predicted by former Representative J.D. Hayworth, an Arizona Republican. But alas, Wilbur still can’t marry Mr. Ed — legally, at least — though who know what goes on in the hay when the lights go off? And aside from some residual whining from the fascist right, the whole same-sex marriage issue has — what can I say? — gone poof.
Hinkle continues by citing the example of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’s timely demise: “Letting gays serve openly would inflict a ‘great cost,’ warned Sen. John McCain. Others predicted that openly gay service members would destroy ‘unit cohesion’ and wreak havoc on ‘good order and discipline’ to the point that it would ‘cost... lives.’ More than 1,000 retired officers wrote a public letter to President Obama predicting that the repeal of DADT would ‘break the all-volunteer force.’
“‘Our finest, most effective non-commissioned officers will leave the service at the end of their current enlistment,’ fretted Oliver North, ‘and there won’t be anyone around to train the next batch of replacements — assuming they can be recruited.’ Others predicted such great losses of personnel that the military would have to bring back the draft. DADT was repealed nevertheless. Several years later, still no sign of the draft.”
Hinkle then compares the inclusion of trans folks in the military to the military’s racial integration imposed by Harry Truman’s executive order in 1948: “Anybody who thinks a racially integrated military is a problem today, please raise your hand.”
This is all well and good. What I take issue with is the article’s headline: “The Transgender Debate Is Overblown.” No, it isn’t. Rump’s reactionary dictate is what’s overblown, not the so-called debate. The fight over gays in the military wasn’t a debate. It was institutionalized bigotry. One side was right and the other was wrong; it’s that simple. It took years of struggle and personal sacrifice to get DADT repealed. Similarly, same-sex marriage became legal only after the gay and lesbian community spent an enormous amount of time and money and energy on the issue. Lots of people burned out along the way.
The American Civil Liberties Union, Lambda Legal, and OutServe-SLDN are now suing Rump over the transgender ban, joining the National Center for Lesbian Rights and the GLBTQ Legal Advocates & Defenders, which have filed a similar suit.
From Newsweek: “Hurling accusations of mental illness at opponents is nothing new in politics. But on Friday, Representative Zoe Lofgren went a step further, tabling a resolution for President Donald Trump to undergo a medical and psychiatric evaluation to determine if he is fit to hold office. [Strangely, Newsweek is using the verb to table not in the sense of bringing a discussion to a close, but rather in its contradictory sense of bringing something up for discussion.] The San Jose Democrat said in Congress that the results of the test could be used by Vice President Mike Pence and members of the cabinet to determine whether Trump should be removed from office under a little-known proviso in the constitution. ‘President Donald J. Trump has exhibited an alarming pattern of behavior and speech causing concern that a mental disorder may have rendered him unfit and unable to fulfill his Constitutional duties,’ wrote Lofgren in her resolution.”
Robert David Jaffee, writing for huffingtonpost.com, cites various publications, including his own: “Of late, there has been an uptick in the diagnosing of Donald Trump’s mental health. The HuffPost ran a banner headline that hailed our nation’s solipsist-in-chief as ‘American Psycho.’ A CNN panel, following Trump’s rambling, hate-filled speech in Phoenix this Tuesday, openly questioned whether Trump has the mental fitness to be the country’s chief executive. And Jeannie Suk Gersen, a Harvard Law professor, just posted a story in the New Yorker, in which she suggested that the Goldwater Rule, which officially bars mental-health professionals from commenting on the psyche of a president or presidential candidate, should be scrapped so as to allow those with the most experience and apparent expertise to weigh in on the mental health and fitness of Donald Trump.”
This discussion has been going on for quite some time. “In the weeks following Trump’s election,” Jaffe goes on, “many of the unsophisticated and even those who should have known better, including a bevy of mental-health professionals, claimed that Trump suffers from mental illness. The diagnosis typically cited was narcissistic personality disorder. Thankfully, on February 14, Dr. Allen Frances, former professor of psychiatry at Duke University and chair of the task force that wrote the DSM-IV, the Bible of mental-health disorders, refuted that diagnosis.
“At that time, Frances wrote a letter to the New York Times and pointed out with his typical insight that Trump ‘may be a world-class narcissist, but this doesn’t make him mentally ill, because he does not suffer from the distress and impairment required to diagnose mental disorder.’ The eminent psychiatrist, who has contributed to the HuffPost over the years, dryly noted … that Trump actually ‘causes severe distress rather than experiencing it and has been richly rewarded, rather than punished, for his grandiosity, self-absorption, and lack of empathy.’”
Okay, so it’s not narcissistic personality disorder. Let’s call it Rump’s syndrome. What’s in a name?