The Military Discriminates All the Time — And That’s a Good Thing


The howling from the media and leftists on the internet started literally within seconds of Trump’s series of tweets announcing that transgender people would not be accepted into the military. (For the record, he never should have announced it via Twitter — that’s not the place to make reforms to the military.) Most of these cries have involved the typical accusations of civil rights violations and discrimination. But these complaints presume that military service is a right. They forget that the military discriminates all the time — as it should.

The military only accepts people who meet its basic standards for physical and mental fitness to serve. If you can’t meet basic standards for service, the military will say “thanks, but no thanks.”

I myself have a litany of medical issues that would preclude me from serving. If the military rejects me because I have asthma and cannot complete basic training, have they violated my civil rights? Of course not. If they reject someone because he has chronic depression, have they violated his civil rights? No. If they reject someone because he is 72 years old, have they violated his civil rights? They have simply made a determination that he is not capable — at this time — of meeting the rigorous demands of military service.

The category “transgender” is mainly used to refer to individuals with gender dysphoria (formerly gender identity disorder), a recognized mental condition classified by the DSM-V as a mental disorder. Persons with gender dysphoria deserve our compassion, and no one with a mental disorder, be it depression or bipolar or any of the hundreds of them, should be stigmatized.

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But no one has a right to serve in our military. It’s not like a public school where anyone can get in. It doesn’t matter if you want to serve; it matters if your service is a net asset to the military. If someone is not physically or mentally capable, he or she should not serve. And if accepting a person requires dozens of policy changes and creates division among service members and lowers morale, he or she should not serve.

It’s that simple. Let’s stop turning our military into the latest proxy battle of the culture wars.

Thomas Valentine

Thomas Valentine is a columnist for

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