Trump transgender military ban at odds with allies like Canada - Macleans.ca
 

Trump transgender military ban at odds with allies like Canada

National Defence says work continues on an update to the Canadian military’s transgender policy, which first came into effect in 2012


 
Canadian Army instructors discuss mechanized infantry defence tactics with their Ukrainian Armed Forces colleagues during Exercise RAPID TRIDENT in Starychi, Ukraine on June 30, 2016. (Joint Task Force Ukraine)

Canadian Army instructors discuss mechanized infantry defence tactics with their Ukrainian Armed Forces colleagues during Exercise RAPID TRIDENT in Starychi, Ukraine on June 30, 2016. (Joint Task Force Ukraine)

OTTAWA – The Canadian Forces says it is pressing ahead with improvements to its transgender policy, even as U.S. President Donald Trump looks to bar transgender people from military service south of the border.

Trump surprised many Wednesday when he announced on Twitter that he was reinstating a ban on transgender people serving in uniform, after the previous Obama administration lifted the ban last year.

“Our military must be focused on decisive and overwhelming victory,” he wrote, “and cannot be burdened with the tremendous medical costs and disruption that transgender in the military would entail.”

The announcement sparked concern for the hundreds of trans members already serving in the U.S. military, and accusations that the president was exaggerating the challenges of accommodation.

It also cast a light on the Canadian Forces, which lifted its own ban on transgender people and LGBT members following a court case in 1992 — a fact the Forces highlighted on its own Twitter account Wednesday.

“We welcome (Canadians) of all sexual orientations and gender identities,” the military wrote under a picture of three sailors playing instruments at a recent Pride parade. “Join us!”

National Defence spokesman Daniel Le Bouthillier said work continues on an update to the Canadian military’s transgender policy, which first came into effect in 2012.

While many of the changes are expected to be technical in nature, it is also expected to give commanding officers and units more guidance when it comes to such basics as bathrooms and showering.

The update, which started last year, is expected to be complete in the fall.

There are no official figures for how many transgender people are in the Forces, but estimates put the number at about 200.

Le Bouthillier also said the military has paid for 19 sex-reassignment operations between 2008 and October 2015, at a total cost of around $309,000. That works out to about $16,200 per operation.

While the costs do not include any hormone therapy, Alan Okros, an expert on diversity in the military at the Canadian Forces College, said many service members receive such treatment for various conditions — not just sex reassignment.

By comparison, Veterans Affairs Canada spent nearly $20 million on medical marijuana last year.

Okros also said he was unaware of any negative impacts that allowing transgender people to serve in uniform has caused on operations or the military’s overall ability to do its job.

Canada is one of 18 countries that currently allow transgender military personnel, which includes Israel, Australia, Britain, Germany and France.

“The disruption factor is not a major issue for these countries at all,” Okros said. “So some of (Trump’s) objections are based on concerns or exaggerations that aren’t borne out.”

Randall Garrison, who serves as both the NDP’s defence critic and its LGBTQ critic, called on Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to denounce Trump’s “despicable” comments.

“Service to one’s country is of the highest honour. Transgender people who are currently in the military and those who wish to serve are, in many ways, the bravest of the brave,” Garrison said in a statement.

“Prime Minister Trudeau must denounce this policy immediately in order to demonstrate that Canada not only respects human rights but that we will stand up against discrimination.”

The Liberal government sidestepped questions about Trump, however, as Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan’s office noted transgender military personnel have been allowed to serve openly for 25 years.

“Our position on their valuable service in the Canadian military has not changed,” spokeswoman Jordan Owens said in a statement.


 

Trump transgender military ban at odds with allies like Canada

  1. This is wrong … so wrong.

  2. Keep Fags and trannies out of the military….lets man up like real men and women and protect our land and its 3 ocean shores from evil

    • Fascism will get you nowhere.

    • Better yet, let’s keep ignorant bigots out of the military. We should start with banning “real men”.

  3. Hey Macleans how about naming the 18 countries. According to my research there are only 8 countries not 18. Also how come the CAF cannot meet recruiting requirements and harassment complaints are continually on the rise. Esprit de corps, morale is at an all time low and the CAF is forced to accept any minority without question because of charter rights and the threat of being branded .homophobic not to mention lawsuits. Oh yes they are welcomed because they have to be but do not assume there is not a price being paid.

    • I have yet to see what possible benefit our nation’s defense derives from including people with an acknowledged serious mental illness into their ranks.
      That’s the entire question in a nutshell. What is the supposed benefit to our defensive and warfighting capabilities?

      • I’m sure you can cite a number of credible studies concluding that being transgender (or gay) is an “acknowledged serious mental illness”. Let’s see those links.

        The entire problem “in a nutshell” is that the serious mental illness of bigotry is not recognized. Yet.