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Looking For a Few Good (Trans) Men & Women

Restricting the privilege of military service is not unjust discrimination.

The U.S. armed forces always say they’re looking for a few good men and women, but they’re discriminating against me because of my health and my age. I want to serve, but they won't let me.

Never mind that I wouldn’t make it through basic training. My knees need to be replaced and I have arthritis in most of my joints. But once the military pays for my knee surgery and my arthritis medication, I’ll be good as new!

In fact, they really should waive their physical standards in my case. I’m a marginalized person with a disability! Who do they think they are, telling me I can’t serve?

What did you say? Other members of my unit might lack confidence in my abilities? They might fear I would handicap the team? That’s just ageism and differently-abled-phobia. They don’t get to decide who I am or what I can do! Does such an argument sound crazy? That’s because it is.

When President Trump released a memo in 2016 directing that most transgender-identified individuals would not be allowed to join the armed forces, transgender-rights activists lost their minds: How dare the government discriminate against the trans community!

But restricting the privilege of military service is not unjust discrimination.

To carry out its mission, the military needs the strongest, smartest, and fittest people. They want young adults who have a good educational background and no mental or physical health issues. For example, they've rejected physically healthy teens from service due to a bout of depression in middle school.

What if I were accepted into the military, with all of my health issues? What if I lost or ran out of my medication while on deployment? Bad things would happen, not just to me, but to my entire unit. If I were unable to perform my duties I would put the mission and everyone involved with it at risk.

The same is true for a trans-identified individual on life-long hormone therapies. And no matter how stable an individual is on medication, the military must also consider an individual’s potential stability when unmedicated.

Furthermore, transgender surgeries are expensive and time consuming. But if the government won’t pay for my knee replacements, why should they be required to provide elective cosmetic surgeries for people who are dissatisfied with how their bodies look?

The U.S. military has always conducted extensive screening to select the best of the best.

Until now, that is.

Because of President Biden’s executive order on January 25, 2021 regarding people with gender identity issues serving in the military, the armed services now must make an exception for one very specific group: not women like me with severe arthritis, nor older Americans who want to serve, nor even those who deal with most other mental and physical health issues.

No, the military has to make an exception for a man who claims he's a woman or a woman who claims she’s a man.

Though transgender-identified people bristle at this truth, the fact is that they suffer either a medical disorder or a psychiatric condition. Both have historically disqualified people from military service.

That Biden’s order is titled “Executive Order on Enabling All Qualified Americans to Serve Their Country in Uniform” smokes with irony.

Apparently, like so many other words that the gender industry has adulterated into doublespeak, “qualified” has a new (and opposite) meaning. A “qualified American” is now someone for whom we must overlook what would disqualify anyone else from service, as long as the “qualified American” claims to be the opposite sex.

To add insult to injury, not only will the military give the transgender-identified an exemption not extended to other Americans, but Biden’s Executive Order also requires the military to “establish a mechanism ... to ‘transition.’”

The process of transitioning genders includes taking wrong-sex hormones that cause permanent damage to an otherwise healthy body, and undergoing body-mutilating surgeries that can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars, not to mention the costs of complications and long-term care for those suffering from gender-transition’s often debilitating side-effects.

In addition, the military is ordered to “prohibit involuntary separations, discharges, and denials of reenlistment or continuation of service on the basis of gender identity or under circumstances relating to their gender identity.”

This directive provides special protections to those based on gender identity, for instance, if a male wants to shower with women. He can stand there and ogle his naked female counterparts, and the women will have no recourse. There are no standards, no caveats, no conditional clauses.

This Executive Order does not promote equality or fairness, but creates a privileged and protected class that is exempt from meeting the same qualifications others must meet, and who are guaranteed to have expensive elective cosmetic procedures paid for with U.S. tax dollars. Furthermore, it gives men the right to harass women without consequence.

Is anyone in the new administration thinking through their ham-handed policies? Or do they simply care that little about standards, military readiness, and protecting the women who serve in the armed forces?


Erin Brewer is a partner with Partners for Ethical Care. Contact Dr. Brewer via

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