Despite the White House talk of "Fake News," there is nothing fake about the journalists who risk their lives to cover American men and women women at war. That includes Carmen Gentile, war correspondent and author of "Kissed by the Taliban" who nearly lost his life covering the war in Afghanistan. Here is what he had to say about the President's out-of-the-blue edict on our transgender warriors who volunteer service to their country and the United States military.
The Transgender Controversy That Isn’t
By Carmen Gentile
Let me just jump in here and make my point quick and dirty.
I won’t address the reasoning behind President Trump’s out-the-blue transgender proclamation other than note that the President is drowning in scandal and figures he can shore up his base with some good ‘ole fashioned bigotry while securing $1.6 billion from Congress for his asinine border wall.
Now, let’s get into it.
What surprises and concerns me is about this fabricated controversy swirling around an issue that was settled by the Obama administration is the attitudes of some service men and women and veterans I know who seem to think that transgender soldiers, marines, sailor and airmen aren’t capable of performing at the same level of others.
One soldier I know from my time embedding with US forces in Iraq and Afghanistan said he was worried that transgender personnel may not be as prepared to fight on a moment’s notice while undergoing any number of medical procedures for transitioning.
Doctors who specialize in gender-reassignment surgery say the recovery time is two-to-six weeks for most operations. Say you are a Marine who blows out a knee while working out, chances are you will be laid up a lot longer. So that one doesn’t hold water.
A veteran opined that transgender personnel in the military may not be be able to handle the stress of combat operations saying they are, across the board, more emotionally volatile. Yeah, that doesn’t work either considering it’s a blanket statement about an entire group of people that just doesn’t adequately cover all of them and at its best is insanely discriminatory.
Not up to the challenge? Transgender personnel volunteer to work in the very traditional, conservative workplace that is the military. I think, for the most part, most have already proven they can handle the rigors of service.
So while we’re trading in free-ranging, unscientific assessment of the made-up “transgender military personnel” controversy, let me proffer my own:
Trump says eliminating transgender personnel from the military is a cost-cutting measure. By accounts transgenders-related healthcare account for at most $8.4 million a year in healthcare spending. And yes, by now we’ve all read the Military Times piece comparing that to the $40 million the Pentagon spends on boner pills.
You want to talk about cost? How about the price tag of yanking thousands of service people from the ranks of the military and replacing them with new one that will need to be trained to do their jobs, plus recruit new folks to those positions vacated by the replacements.
Look, I don’t know the first thing about what it’s like to be a transgender service person. But I have seen people from all walks of life serve their country with distinction and honor in life-threatening situations. I’m sure a well-trained, transgender soldier, marine, sailor or airmen will do the same if they managed to make it to the front lines of the fight.
Still not convinced? Then I suggest you express your opinions to transgender ex-Navy SEAL Kristin Beck.
She’ll do a much better job than I of convincing anyone not to lump all transgender service people together.
Have a good day,
Editor's note: Growing up, my Dad and I never missed an episode of "The Big Story," a weekly TV drama about real-life, crime-solving hero journalists. To this day my favorite movies, "All the President's Men" and "Spotlight," are of the same genre. Likewise "Escape from Saigon - a Novel" centers on the journalists who devoted their youth to covering the protracted Vietnam War. Among them the fictional Lisette Vo, the first Vietnamese-American woman to report for a major US TV network and Sam Esposito, the ambivalent, Yale '62 graduate, whose truthful reporting for The Washington Legend won him praise from this editors and the generals, but infuriated the vindictive Richard Nixon. In a nutshell, today's real war correspondents like Carmen Gentile, deserve our kudos for the risks they take and their willingness to speak truth to power. DP