Anger — that’s what Skylar Julian, a local transgender man, felt when he heard President Donald Trump had tweeted that the “United States government will not accept or allow transgender individuals to serve in any capacity in the U.S. military” because having them in the army would burden the military with “tremendous medical costs.”
“My thought process was well then good,” Julian said. “Trans people don’t need to fight for a country that doesn’t even treat them as a human.”
Julian grew up in Spurgeon, Ind., in Pike County but visited Warrick County often as he attended both Tecumseh High School and the Warrick Education Center.
He began his transition just a few years ago.
“I learned I would live more comfortably as a male back in middle school,” Julian said. “But didn’t start my transitional journey till the end of 2014, beginning of ‘15.”
Julian said Trump’s tweets are disrespectful to the trans people currently serving in the army.
“Because if these people are noble enough to risk giving up their life for people to have the right to openly hate them,” he said, “they should at least get the respect due.”
According to a 2016 RAND Corp. study commissioned by the Pentagon, there are between 1,320 and 6,630 transgender troops out of an active-duty force of 1.3 million.
“Whether that is pre or post-operation,” said Boonville veteran Hilary Carrico. “And they will have continued expenses and the government’s going to fit the bill for that. But the government also fits the bill for Viagra.”
Julian said the same.
“The government spends a great deal more for soldiers to have Viagra,” he said, “but the trans soldiers are being told they are too expensive?”
According to an analysis from the Military Times, the U.S. military spends $41.6 million annually on Viagra alone — roughly five times more than the estimated cost of footing the bill for transition-related medical care for transgender service members.
Turmp’s announcement to not allow tans people to serve in the U.S. army comes just one year after the Obama administration announced that trans people would no longer be discriminated against in the army.
Carrico said she was more angry about the fact that Trump said “after consultation with my generals and military experts” than about him banning transgender people from the military.
“To me, that is a bigger deal that he thinks that the armed forced belong to him,” she said. “The fact that no one is up in arms about that and that fact that I think it was last week he gave this speech to a graduating Navy class and said OK you cadettes, you need to all go and call your congressman and vote Republican and get this healthcare thing passed. That is a huge dereliction of his responsibility and is a much bigger deal than the transgender thing.”
Carrico said it makes sense Trump would act that way because she thinks he views the armed forces as belonging to him.
“He is the CEO of the army. He is the commander and chief of the armed forces and you should command but you’re not commanding,” she said. “You’re wielding them as a cuddle and it’s wrong. It’s wrong. He has enormous power but doesn’t want any of the responsibility.”
Carrico said she roomed with a girl in Iraq who in hindsight was trans.
“She was absolutely handsome and she kept her hair short enough that she would get confused for a guy pretty frequently,” she said. “And she did some cross-dress modeling and was just very masculinely beautiful.”
Carrico said her roommate used female pronouns and identified as a female at the time because she had no other choice.
“The whole debate reminds me quite a bit of well we can’t integrate black people because that would just be devastating for morale. We can’t have women in the service. There is absolutely no way,” she said. “We well we can’t have women in combat roles. Combat roles is really where we draw the line.”
Carrico said every time that you say well this type of person will just be bad for our readiness, you are undermining the professionality of the people that put on the uniform.
“If you can train me to head toward a bullet,” she said, “you can train me to not look where people pee.”
Carrico said finds it insulting that there is a notion that the troops cannot handle having trans people in the army.
“The Israeli army has one bathroom. Everyone shares a bathroom. Everyone shares a shower. Suck it up,” she said. “I wish we were more like the Israeli army because we are as professional. Large groups of people are as professional as you beat into them. And we’re beat pretty good.”
Carrico said she understands the Republican argument that there are expenses that come with having trans soldiers.
“But if you are a patriotic trans person and the military has decided it is worth the expense...,” she said. “Because the military decided it was worth my expense and paying my student loans. The military decided I was worth the investment. And I went and did my job and hopefully they came out ahead and I came out ahead.”
Carrico said if the military believes trans people are worth the investment, they will be.
“If the military has decided trans people can serve,” she said. “Then they’re going to come out ahead and we’re going to come out ahead.”
She said this is because the military only and always picks the best applicants.
“We don’t take you if you have flat feet, we don’t take you if you have bone spurs, we don’t take you if you’re bipolar,” Carrico said. “There are a lot of reasons you shouldn’t serve in the army. It is not a right. It’s a privilege. And that is important to remember.”
Julian said he couldn’t fathom what the current trans members of the U.S. armed forces are thinking right now.
“Probably anger, sadness, confusion, disrespect,” he said. “They are being treated like a burden in society but they want to fight for their country. How is that a burden?”
As of Tuesday, Aug. 1st, the Pentagon has not received any guidance from the White House in formal writing as how to proceed with the “ban.”