Perhaps it’s the mark of our times, but everybody seems to want to be someone or something he’s not. Men are trying to be women, women want to be soldiers, judges appoint themselves legislators. “Amusin,’” as Li’l Abner used to say in the comics pages, “but confusin’.” But given the stakes, there’s no room for the confusing.
One U.S. District judge, Colleen Kollar-Kotelly of the District of Columbia even imagines that she’s the commander in chief of the U.S. military services. She has blocked implementation of President Trump’s ban on transgendered soldiers and sailors, and has ordered the services to accept the sexually confused into their ranks by Jan. 1, 2018. That’s only 14 days away.
The president said in July that after consulting with his generals and admirals, he would instruct the services “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 transgenders in the military would entail.”
The president is on firm constitutional grounds. Article 2, Section 2 of the Constitution plainly states, in language that even a government lawyer can understand, that “The president shall be commander in chief of the Army and Navy of the United States, and of the Militia of the several states, when called into actual Service of the United States.”
Judge Kollar-Kotelly, who was appointed a federal judge by President Clinton, is not much impressed by that part of the Constitution. She even declined to grant additional time for the Pentagon to make preparations for receiving soldiers of suspect suitability. That same day, U.S. District Judge Marsha Pechman in Washington state issued a similar decision, and these decisions follow a ruling by U.S. District Judge Marvin Garbis in Maryland that not only blocked implementation of President Trump’s order, but said the administration cannot prevent the Pentagon paying for sex-change hormone treatment and surgeries of transgendered soldiers. (If a soldier is entitled to government-paid erasure of his manhood, shouldn’t a female soldier be entitled to whatever cosmetic surgery she thinks would enhance her chin, eyes and boobs?)
Judicial trifling with Article 2, Section 2, won’t have immediate bad consequences, beyond making heads ache at the Pentagon, because there won’t be a lot of the sexually addled breaking down the doors at recruiting stations. For all the noise they make, the number of those seeking relief from the sex they were born with is actually quite small — thought to be a tiny fraction of 1 percent of the population.
Nevertheless, there’s a far greater issue here. What is an Army or Navy for, and who is responsible for it, the president or a district court judge? The role of an army and a navy has always been to kill people and break things, though it’s impolite to describe it quite that way. Given that role, the military services are entitled to organize themselves in a way most efficient to protect the country.
We’ve never had a full and honest debate about the public consequences of changing sexes (or changing genders, which is not the same thing), and the consequences are for more complicated and serious than a gaggle of judges ignorant of the business end of a gun may imagine. A surgeon’s scalpel can change outward appearances, but cannot touch the 6,500 genetic differences that medical science has discovered between male and female.
The Trump administration says it will appeal its cases to the U.S. Supreme Court, and it must. Biology is the reality, not bigotry, and the delusional among us can be pitied if not accommodated. Reality must prevail.