A few days ago President Trump unleashed another ridiculous Twitter storm, this time about transgender people serving in the military.
On Wednesday morning, Trump wrote on Twitter that “after consultation with my Generals and military experts, please be advised that the United States government will not accept or allow transgender individuals to serve in any capacity in the U.S. Military."
"Our military must be focused on decisive and overwhelming victory and cannot be burdened with the tremendous medical costs and disruption that transgender in the military would entail,” Trump added. “Thank you."
Not surprisingly, these short sentences are filled with lies.
There's no evidence that Trump consulted military experts about the transgender issue. His Defense Secretary was caught off guard by the Twitter announcement, saying he was "appalled."
Trump's intention to ban transgender people from serving in the armed forces appears to have been made for purely political reasons.
Mr. Trump elected to announce the ban in order to resolve a quietly brewing fight on Capitol Hill over whether taxpayer money should pay for gender transition and hormone therapy for transgender service members. The dispute had threatened to kill a $790 billion defense and security spending package scheduled for a vote this week.
But rather than addressing that narrow issue, Mr. Trump opted to upend the entire policy on transgender service members.
Given that there aren't many transgender individuals in the military, their gender-transition related health care costs -- between $2.4 million and $8.4 million annually -- are a minuscule fraction of overall defense spending. And Trump's frequent Mar-a-Lago trips cost much more than transgender military health care.
Lots of things bug me about Trump. One of the many irritations is how Trump cares very little about understanding policies, choosing to focus almost entirely on politics.
(Yet he isn't very good at political machinations, leaving aside his slim presidential victory, having just crashed and burned on his pledge to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, and having no other significant legislative accomplishments so far.)
The same day Trump announced his intention to ban transgender people from serving in the military, I read a chapter in D.F. Swaab's book, "We Are Our Brains: A Neurobiography of the Brain, from the Womb to Alzheimer's." Swaab, says the book jacket, "is an internationally renowned researcher in neuroscience and a professor of neurobiology at the University of Amsterdam."
In his Sexual Differentiation of the Brain in the Womb chapter, Swaab talks about some basic transgender facts that Trump should have learned before he issued his banned-from-the-military tweets.
All the data indicates that gender problems arise in the womb. Tiny variations in genes associated with the effect of hormones on brain development have been found to increase the likelihood of transsexuality. It can also be increased by abnormal fetal hormone levels or by medication taken during pregnancy that inhibits the breakdown of sex hormones.
The differentiation of our sex organs takes place in the first months of pregnancy, while the sexual differentiation of the brain occurs in the second half of pregnancy. Since these two processes take place at different times, the theory is that in the case of transsexuality, they have been influenced independently of one another.
Thus a transsexual comes to feel that he/she is inhabiting a body that doesn't match with his/her mind.
In 2007 V.S. Ramachandran published an interesting hypothesis and provisional research finding on transsexuality. He believes that the neural body map of MtF [male to female] transsexuals lacks a penis, while that of FtM [female to male] transsexuals lacks breasts, due to these not being programmed into the map during development. As a result, they don't recognize these organs as their own and want to get rid of them.
Regardless of the exact biological cause of transsexuality, it seems clear that transgender individuals don't choose to transition to the other gender like someone chooses to dye one's hair or get a tattoo. Almost certainly, transsexuality isn't a choice. Neither is homosexuality.
Virtually all of the evidence points to the fact that when it comes to sexual identification as male, female, something in-between, or something else, people are, in Lady Gaga's words, "born this way."
I realize that Trump doesn't like to read much. But maybe he'd watch a video.
Some of the lyrics:
Don't be a drag, just be a queen
Whether you're broke or evergreen
You're black, white, beige, chola descent
You're Lebanese, you're orient
Whether life's disabilities
Left you outcast, bullied, or teased
Rejoice and love yourself today
'cause baby you were born this way
No matter gay, straight, or bi,
Lesbian, transgendered life,
I'm on the right track baby,
I was born to survive.
No matter black, white or beige
Chola or orient made,
I'm on the right track baby,
I was born to be brave.