Lest anyone suspect differently, gloating comments from anti-LGBT leaders on Donald Trump's announced reinstatement of the ban on transgender service members make it clear he's pandering (successfully) to the religious right -- and they have their fingerprints all over it.
A Liberty Counsel press release referred to "so-called transgender people" and called gender-confirmation procedures "body mutilating plastic surgery," and noted, "Liberty Counsel has been involved in this military issue by meeting with White House officials and others about the need to reverse the Obama policy. Last Friday, Jonathan Alexandre, Director of Public Policy at Liberty Counsel, met with White House officials and discussed this issue, stressing the importance of the President's power to direct his generals to prioritize unit cohesion and military readiness rather than sacrificing them to the demands of the transgender lobby."
"I applaud President Trump for making America safe again," said Liberty Counsel founder and chairman Mat Staver in the same release. "The military is a lethal weapon designed to protect America and our allies. It is not a social club, a social experimentation petri dish, or ClubMed. The focus should be military readiness and unit cohesion. The President has kept his promise to return to military priorities by not continuing the 'transgender' policy that undermines unit cohesion, preparedness, and morale. The duty of military officers is to appropriately lead and prepare their personnel to serve and protect, and they cannot do that when there is confusion, dysfunction, and safety issues within the barracks."
A statement from Family Research Council president Tony Perkins contained similarly disparaging language as well as a hugely inflated estimate of the cost of transition-related health care. "The last thing we should be doing is diverting billions of dollars from mission-critical training to something as controversial as gender reassignment surgery," Perkins said on the group's website. "However, the cost to readiness, recruitment, retention, morale and cohesion would have been even greater under the Obama policy. As our nation faces serious national security threats, our troops shouldn't be forced to endure hours of transgender 'sensitivity' classes and politically-correct distractions like this one."
Unbiased researchers such as the RAND Corp. have put the cost of covering transition procedures for troops in the millions, not billions -- anywhere from $24 million to $84 million over the next 10 years, while the total military budget is $600 billion a year. GLAAD notes that the Family Research Council, American Family Association, and other virulently anti-LGBT groups in addition to Liberty Counsel have been pushing the narrative that lifting the ban would be costly and dangerous.
Today, AFA president Tim Wildmon was quick to praise the new ban, saying, "AFA applauds President Trump for his courageous decision to end the usage of our military for social engineering and political correctness. American families deserve a military that is focused solely on readiness and national defense."
Bob Unruh, a columnist on the far-right site World Net Daily, called the Obama administration's lifting of the ban "one of the most shocking and potentially destructive orders," adding, "The Obama decision, if left unchanged, would have forced U.S. soldiers to work under the most intense, life-endangering conditions alongside gender confused individuals undergoing a variety of treatments and put American taxpayers on the hook for what could have been hundreds of millions of dollars in medical procedures."
Ignoring the fact that there are already many trans people in the military, Unruh continued, "Critics had pointed out that transgenders may have been unable to fulfill their military obligations under any circumstances because of ongoing medical treatment they would require."
And Breitbart contributor Neil Munro saw the decision as a response to the de-gendering of America. He dubbed Trump's move "assertively mainstream" and "a direct rejection of the progressives' revolutionary demand that Americans' society should be remade to eliminate all civic recognition of the two different-and-complementary male and female sexes."