By John Compere, a retired brigadier general in the U.S. Army, a disabled American veteran of the Vietnam War and a Texas rancher.
The U.S. Department of Defense should continue to provide transgender Americans the right to serve in our armed forces and reject the bigoted ban attempt by an egregious executive who evaded military service during the Vietnam War.
Unlike the current commander-in-chief, transgender Americans have served and are serving in the military with honor and distinction. (See more at www.militarypartners.org.) Our diverse and inclusive military implemented transgender service previously without difficulty. To reverse that now serves no legitimate military or national purpose. Transgender troops notably serve with honor in 18 other countries, including two of our close allies – the United Kingdom and Israel.
Medical science tells us gender dysphoria (gender orientation) is biological, not volitional. It reflects one’s being, and is not a choice. Transgender people are our neighbors, not foreign terrorists or aliens from another planet. They are human beings and fellow Americans, morally deserving our acceptance and inclusion.
The American Psychological Association publicly opposes transgender discrimination, stating that being transgender “does not, by itself, limit the ability of individuals to function well and excel in their work, including in military service.” The American Psychiatric Association also opposes transgender discrimination.
Provoked by a pernicious president’s partisan political pandering, intolerant and judgmental Religious Right forces hypocritically hurl hatred at transgender Americans and obstinately oppose their right to serve in our military, as they once did against others they have considered unworthy or inferior — African- Americans, Native Americans, Jewish Americans, Japanese Americans, Muslim Americans, female Americans and gay Americans.
Radicalized fundamentalists who judge and condemn transgender, gay and lesbian human beings reject the theistic tribute “In God We Trust,” biblical human creation by God in God’s image (Genesis 1:27) and God’s biblical judgment authority (Romans 2:1-3). In God they obviously do not trust because they presumptuously preempt God by judging and condemning God’s human creations. Their anti-biblical stance also makes a malevolent mockery of the second great commandment — love thy neighbor as thyself (Mark 12:31, Luke 10:27).
Some scripture-spinners cherry-pick obscure instructions of Levite tribal priests self-righteously justifying their exercise of authority and control over tribal people in the ancient Middle East. They are found in the legalistic biblical book of Leviticus (which means “relating to the Levites” – not to Americans), composed by an anonymous author centuries after such tribal instructions were reportedly promulgated. These antiquated rules were made for a people long ago in a land far away. They were never intended to be a guide for public policy in 21st century America.
Such misguided efforts to justify bias and harm against transgender, lesbian or gay human beings constitute deliberate and disgraceful discrimination that fools no one. Fortunately, the federal courts have blocked implementation of the attempted transgender ban until its potential unconstitutional discrimination in violation of due process of law, equal protection of the laws and other laws can be judicially determined.
Renaissance philosopher Niccolò Machiavelli, in The Exhortation to Penitence, wisely warned that those who cannot avoid being hostile to neighbors are ungrateful to God. Christian philosopher Blaise Pascal poignantly penned this worldly wisdom: “Men never do evil so completely and cheerfully as when they do it from religious conviction.” Over the years, many others have observed that regressive religious beliefs can lead some to hate.
Yet the New Testament instruction for faithful, caring and thinking Christian Americans found in Matthew 7:1-2 and Luke 6:36-37 is crystal clear: “Be merciful, just as God is merciful. Do not judge and you will not be judged. Do not condemn and you will not be condemned.”
Wise words. Perhaps the Religious Right should heed them.