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September 20, 2021

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The day the repeal was implemented there was an enormous lifting of weight off the shoulders of LGB military personnel. However, downplaying the justice frame also came with costs. Perhaps the greatest cost was that it left transgender service members behind.

What this sounds like, to me, is making the perfect the enemy of the good.

Accepting LGB individuals into the military was certainly a good thing. And it took a very long time. Nice as it might be to have dealt with transgender individuals at the same time, it needs to be recognized that a) they are a far tinier fraction of the population than L or G or B individuals, and b) they have only been recognized as a real population far, far more recently.

Think about how long it took to take the first step for LGB troops: don't ask; don't tell. And then even longer to get to complete acceptance. Note also that there is nothing like the medical issues that come with transgender individuals. So don't be amazed that it is going to take a while longer to deal with that.

The UK has fully integrated their trans service members for 20 years, and a lot of the US Mil policy was based on learning from the UK integration.

It's new, but for those currently being recruited it's their entire living memory, so...

The UK has fully integrated their trans service members for 20 years, and a lot of the US Mil policy was based on learning from the UK integration.

Not doubting that we will get there. Just saying that whining because we are not there yet, and (as I hear it) complaining about the US military (which isn't free to set policy here; that comes from Congress, or at least the civilian in the Executive branch) is misguided.

Hey, they Brits had centuries to get used to military men in skirts aka Scots. ;-)

wj, the point that I took away is that different framing approaches, even if aimed at the same end policy, are going to have different effects. While one could say this is perfect being the enemy of the good, I would suggest that to be more clear-eyed about it might have us consider our options better. 'It worked, why are you bitching?' doesn't really promote self-reflection and we certainly have enough comments that represent an absolute refusal to reflect.

'It worked, why are you bitching?'

I was trying to say, rather 'It worked. So why are you bitching rather than working thru the same process again for your new goal?' Talking about means, rather than reflecting on ends.

My take from the piece is that the problem is that the readiness frame (or any constant use of one frame) will automatically value some things and devalue others. It is quite possible that a justice frame would have degraded military readiness because it would seek to challenge instances where injustice occurs. The readiness frame avoids that, which is why you have this quote
“It was more than a collective exhale. It was an exaltation. It was a celebration of normalcy…this very dramatic thing turned out to be a nothing burger.”

Constantly talking about means can have you lose track of your ends. We've all seen when the ends overshadow any discussion of the means (your 'perfect being the enemy of the good') but the reverse, where it is all about the means, can be just as problematic.

Nuance! Toughest thing in the world, amirite?

What this sounds like, to me, is making the perfect the enemy of the good.

I read those two sentences several times, and even, despite my advanced age, moved my lips and made sounds simultaneously (true fact). They sounded like a statement of fact (i.e., there were costs resulting from the decision that was made).

I am at a loss to understand how a statement of presumed fact is making enemies of anything, much less "the Good" in this instance, but perhaps that is just me.

They sounded like a statement of fact (i.e., there were costs resulting from the decision that was made).

Except, of course, there were no costs. Transgender individuals were not accepted before; they weren't accepted after -- so nothing lost there.

What there was is a lack of hoped for benefit. Which just isn't the same thing.

Interesting, I think we need to define 'perfect' and 'good' now. Because I feel like the 'good' is didn't (and still really doesn't) address homophobia in the military.

https://www.nytimes.com/2019/04/10/magazine/lgbt-military-army.html

https://www.airforcetimes.com/news/your-air-force/2019/06/26/air-force-investigating-homophobic-videos-from-airman-in-uniform/

Now, I'm willing to accept that the readiness frame was a 'good' that avoided the 'perfection' of actually addressing problems with homophobia, but we need to be clear what was and is lost when it is not confronted.

I also need to put a marker here after re-reading. I'm not positive, but I don't think that transgender requires that they have had reassignment surgery and that is how I read your

Transgender individuals were not accepted before; they weren't accepted after -- so nothing lost there.

I think it does require that they do not feel comfortable with their assigned gender, and with 1.4 million on active duty and .85 million reserves, I'm sure that some people will fall in that category. It may be that transgender requires the constant presentation as the other gender, but I don't think so.

Interesting, I think we need to define 'perfect' and 'good' now.

Yes, indeed. It is high time to take a critical look at the casual invocation of that line over and over and over and over and over, well, you get my point. It becomes, in essence, a dismissal of any further discussion of the struggle that is taking place ("you want the perfect do you? Well, pffft, you are delusional, out of touch, and simply not realistic by definition, therefore easily dismissed").

We Perfects (I kid) desire better policy. This is not difficult to understand. On the other hand, just what do these motherfuckers want?

just what do these motherfuckers want?

those motherfuckers want different things than "progressives" do and think many of the things "progressives" want are standing in the way of the things those those motherfuckers want and that deviating from that list of things is going to turn off voters.

yes, it's the same story from all sides.

"Hey, they Brits had centuries to get used to military men in skirts aka Scots. ;-)"

Many long years ago, I heard a story that is too good not to be true.

A unit of British soldiers were posted on the Isle of Man, and, as is their wont, they would march around the island to keep fit. The island isn't that large, so the routes for this were limited.

One small bridge that they went over a bridge that long-standing local legend had it that there were "fairies under the bridge", so that one should "wave to the fairies" when passing over the bridge, because really, you DON'T want to piss them off.

The Brits, of course, didn't wave. Until the locals kicked up a fuss. After which, the once-proud British military waved to the fairies whenever they crossed the bridge.

Too good NOT to be true, as I said.

After which, the once-proud British military waved to the fairies whenever they crossed the bridge.

I'm amusing myself speculating what the appropriate commands would be. Clearly "Present arms!" and "Order arms!" won't work for directing the troops to wave. But what would?

Perhaps something like "By ranks, wave!" which would have the plus that, after each rank waved, no comand to cease would be needed....

were the fairies wearing boots?

Smokin' and trippin' is all that cleek does.

I'm not positive, but I don't think that transgender requires that they have had reassignment surgery and that is how I read your

Transgender individuals were not accepted before; they weren't accepted after -- so nothing lost there.

That wasn't my intent. Yes, there is the question of whether the military should pay for said surgery. (If we get to universal health care, that might resolve the question. P.S. does anyone know whether Medicare currently covers the surgery? What about Medicaid?)

But there is more question around issues like which hair style regulations apply. Not to mention which uniform (men's or women's) the individual should be wearing**. And whether they should, pre surgery, have a choice each day on what to wear.

** Not including combat fatigues, obviously, since those don't differ

But there is more question around issues like which hair style regulations apply. Not to mention which uniform (men's or women's) the individual should be wearing**. And whether they should, pre surgery, have a choice each day on what to wear.

I don't know why this would be any different from the exemptions that already exist in the US (and moreso in the UK) for Sikh servicemembers. It's not a matter of granting new anything, just of extending existing things.

I don't know why this would be any different from the exemptions that already exist in the US (and moreso in the UK) for Sikh servicemembers. It's not a matter of granting new anything, just of extending existing things.

Rather easier to determine whether someone is a Sikh than to evaluate the sincerity of a transgender claim.

Side note, where do we go with, for example, non-transgender "drag queens"? Just wondering where you would like to draw the line.

Rather easier to determine whether someone is a Sikh than to evaluate the sincerity of a transgender claim.

Do you really think insincere transgender claims are a practical concern for the military?

Do you really think insincere transgender claims are a practical concern for the military?

there is some historical evidence that such people will become valuable members of the team.

Do you really think insincere transgender claims are a practical concern for the military?

My view is that the number of transgender would-be soldiers is tiny enough that addressing the issue isn't, and shouldn't be, a priority. Far more important to address the widespread homophobia that someone noted above. Not to mention the widespread far right views among the troops.

That isn't to say that nothing should be done. Just that there are other issues in far more urgent need of attention. Both for the good of the military and the good of the country.

Side note, where do we go with, for example, non-transgender "drag queens"? Just wondering where you would like to draw the line.

Uniforms generally don't do much for people who are interested in gender performance, so it would mostly just be a matter of whether or not someone were tucking and/or wearing prostheses (breasts or a packing penis). Which, meh, should not be a problem.

Off duty is off duty, which is where most of this is going to manifest. All that changes there is that no one has to worry about getting discharged for it anymore.

there is some historical evidence that such people will become valuable members of the team.

Correct me if I'm wrong, but isn't cross-dressing a different matter than being transgender?

Correct me if I'm wrong, but isn't cross-dressing a different matter than being transgender?

it was the 70s, or maybe the 50s. things were different then.

I thought cross-dressing was done as a necessity when doing theatre in theatre (of war), since usually no women were at hand to do the female roles. Or is amateur theatre in the military a thing NOT DONE in the US but only in degenerate nations like Britain or Germany?

In case of doubt, I'd say: trousers for everyone as the standard uniform item independent of sex or gender identity. If diversity is unacceptable, then take 'uniform' literally.

Or is amateur theatre in the military a thing NOT DONE in the US

There is not a culture of it in the US Mil that I know of. US Mil brings entertainment in in the form of the USO and similar.

A few years back it was also typical for some of the AF Generals to schedule performances by Contemporary Christian musicians and tell everyone to be there. Service members who objected could opt-out, but they would be scheduled for duty instead and would (unofficially) end up on shitlists.

Very different culture.

Which also puts the homophobia in a different light. Problems at the top and bottom, with a middle that would like to change things, but would also like to make rank, and needs a senior patron to do so.

My view is that the number of transgender would-be soldiers is tiny enough that addressing the issue isn't, and shouldn't be, a priority.

That doesn't really answer the question. You specifically brought up having to evaluate the sincerity of transgender claims, which would assume hypothetically that the military was already somehow accommodating transgender claims. If you think the number of transgender would-be solders is tiny enough not to be a priority, how tiny do you think the number of insincerely transgender would-be solders might be?

What sort of problems of appreciable significance do you think there would be if there was no evaluation of sincerity and transgender claims were all simply assumed to be sincere and accommodated as such?

Uniforms generally don't do much for people who are interested in gender performance, so it would mostly just be a matter of whether or not someone were tucking and/or wearing prostheses (breasts or a packing penis).

Last I looked, women's dress uniforms all feature a skirt.

Rather easier to determine whether someone is a Sikh than to evaluate the sincerity of a transgender claim.

I don't seen much incentive for either group to make false claims, especially for trans service members given the entrenched homophobia and standards of masculinity and how those things function behind the curtain in career decisions. I'd be willing to bet that there are still a lot of individuals in the US Mil who are still closeted and passing for obvious reasons.

Last I looked, women's dress uniforms all feature a skirt.

If there were no other reasons, this alone would keep me out of the military. You couldn't pay me enough to wear a skirt.

Last I looked, women's dress uniforms all feature a skirt.

Drag queens are not the same thing as the trans and genderqueer communities. Queens generally perform a campy version of gender as a social act. Regulation military uniforms just don't work for that.

The trans and genderqueer community just wants to wear the uniform that strikes them as appropriate, and they wish *to be uniform*. It's not a costume and a role that they put on - it's them.

(One of) my dissertation chair's main field of research as a folklorist/anthropologist was gender and closed communities, especially in prisons and in the military. I've heard a lot about this and was working with her during the Obama era.

I wasn't thinking that this would bring up transgender issues, though in retrospect, I should have realized it. Actually wanted to write something more focussed on it when GftNC got back, but I don't want to just leave all this lying out.

Southern churches often, as a fundraiser, do a womanless wedding, which is basically a drag performance. Rudy Guiliani's one claim to fame (well not one but you know what I mean)
https://medium.com/@jeffrovner/whats-up-with-the-video-of-donald-trump-motorboating-a-crossdressing-rudy-giuliani-ef1eb7e47bcd

One may want to pause and wonder why it's ok for America's mayor to parade around with fake breasts, but for a man who feels like he's a woman to be blocked from serving in the armed forces (or vice versa). But if you take a readiness frame, all that because irrelevant. Quit yer bitching, there's a war on. Of course, if we got to a point where it was existential, we might reconsider (cf. https://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/confederacy-approves-black-soldiers

On March 13, 1865, with the main Rebel armies facing long odds against must larger Union armies, the Confederacy, in a desperate measure, reluctantly approves the use of Black troops.

There is also this
https://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-51204323
which was unfortunately followed by this
https://www.theguardian.com/world/2021/mar/04/south-koreas-first-transgender-soldier-found-dead

Given that the military wants 18-20 year olds, which would be a time in one's life when lots of questions about identity are still unresolved, it seems obvious to me that there are going to be people from this demographic. You can either deny the reality of their claim ('oh, they don't really think that, it's the intersectionalist left that has convinced them they are the wrong gender!') or you can take their claim at face value. Or even, if you aren't inclined to do the latter, suspend your judgement and consider the what-if.

[note that the 'you' is the general you, not any specific person]

If the UK military *does* have a 'theatrical' tradition, my bet is that it stems from the English Panto*...
In which cross-dressing is a necessary component.

That's in addition to the long, long Shakespearean tradition** of having boys play the part of women; which is especially amusing for the comedies, in which the young female character "dresses up as a man" for the purposes of romantic shenanigans.

*(Pantos seem to be exclusively English, although I am aware of a couple that are put on in the US, often amateur productions, with a limited set of 'canon' plays. Up until Covid, I think the only way to see a Panto (which you should, they are hilarious, and helps explain much Monty Python material) was to GO to England in the late-Nov to early-Jan "Panto season", and attend in person. However, the Belgrade theatre put on a video Panto last year, and I think they're doing it again this year. Google it)

**(enforced by religious authorities, so I've heard)

The UK military *did* have a panto tradition during both World Wars (WWI written about in detail in The Great War by Paul Fussel), and I seem to remember a couple of vids done panto style from recent deployments as well.

So it's not just a Blackadder Goes Forth thing.

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