Excluding Transgenders From Military Is Like Segregating African Americans, Ohio State Prof Says

Craig Bannister | October 3, 2023
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In an article in Time magazine’s “Made By History” section, supposedly “written and edited by professional historians,” an Ohio State University professor uses dubious claims to argue that a failure to welcome transgender service members will damage military effectiveness and weaken the country’s armed forces – just as rejection and segregation of African Americans once did.

In “The Battle Against 'Wokeness' Is Extending to Defense Funding—But History Shows an Equitable Military Is More Effective,” published by Time on Friday, Professor Mitchell Lerner says House conservatives are using attempting to use defense legislation to attack “wokeism”:

“House Conservatives have turned the usually bipartisan National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) and the defense appropriations bill into weapons in their battle against ‘wokeism’ in the military.”

After giving a one-sentence nod to opposition to other transgender issues (transgender “health care,” abortion, and DEI training), Lerner spends the rest of his article equating past segregation and African Americans in the military to concerns about the detrimental effects gender dysphoria-plagued and transgender individuals might have on the nation’s armed forces.

Lerner disparages a February comment by Republican Senator Tommy Tuberville (R-Ala.) that “Now is not the time to socially experiment with our armed forces at the expense of readiness, morale, and our national defense,” claiming it to be proof that conservatives are, and always have been, racist:

“These charges are hardly new—and they echo the arguments made by those who opposed racially integrating the military in the nation’s past. Conservative politicians and military leaders regularly claimed African Americans were unfit for full membership, due to their perceived lack of intelligence, courage, and moral fortitude.”

However, the history professor ignores the historical fact that it was Democrat President Franklin Roosevelt (FDR) who upheld segregation of the military in 1940 and Republican President Harry Truman who ended it in 1948, by executive order. And, many southern Democrats were staunch segregationists in decades past.

What’s more, even liberal NBC News has chronicled Democrat Pres. Biden’s segregationist history, while the radical leftist Washington Post has assigned blame for the segregationist sentiment in 1948 to those on both sides of the aisle.

Nonetheless, Lerner claims that “Once again, however, right-wing politicians are sounding the alarm over policies designed to make the military more diverse and welcoming,” using “diverse” as a euphemism for “emotionally disturbed by their biological sex”:

“Their complaints sound similar to those put forward by military leaders and policymakers who fought against integrating the army—and whose concerns proved misguided and counterproductive. If history is a guide, their resistance to diversity efforts will damage military effectiveness and weaken the country’s armed forces.”

However, a Heritage Foundation survey of active service members in January found that 80% are concerned about the unrestricted service of transgenders, including more than half (56%) who are greatly concerned:

“A new survey of active U.S. military members reveals that 68 percent have witnessed some or a significant level of politicization in the military, and 65 percent of those polled say that it is a concern. Of all the issues polled, policies that allow unrestricted military service by transgender individuals were of greatest concern for active military members, with eight in 10 (80 percent) saying that it decreased their trust in the military somewhat or a great deal.”

Likewise, a commentary published by Former Director of the Center for National Defense Thomas Spoehr warns that health problems prevalent among transgender service members - such as suicide, anxiety and depression - also presents dangers:

“Military service is inherently stressful, especially so in a combat environment. Every member of the unit depends on the person next to him or her. They have trained and worked together constantly. Their relationship is one of trust—they know everyone has each other’s back.

“Allowing mistrust or uncertainty into the unit weakens this critical bond. It breeds resentment. It causes doubt where once was certainty.

“This is the heart of the transgender service debate. If those with gender dysphoria are at a much higher risk of suicide, crippling anxiety or other mental breakdowns than their peers, those serving next to them will be reluctant to rely on them. Permitting them to serve also violates the principle of not placing individuals at greater risk of injury in harm’s way.”

According to the Heritage survey, majorities of active service members say other woke military issues have also decreased their trust in the nation's armed forces:

  • Critical Race Theory (CRT) books appearing on Chief of Naval Operation’s reading list: 69%
  • Requirement for the military to pay for travel for abortions: 65%
  • Focus on climate change as a top national security threat: 70%
  • Reduction of physical fitness standards to “even the playing field”: 70%
  • Embracement of a goal to pursue all electric vehicles: 64%