A Republican Congressman from Oklahoma said in an interview that “soldiers who don’t want to deploy” will pretend to be transgender in an attempt to avoid combat duty. He also said openness about gender issues would “hinder readiness” in the military.
U.S. Rep. Steve Russell, a former soldier who says he commanded 1,000 soldiers in a task force in Iraq, began the interview by saying the new trans regulations imposed by the previous administration were too “confusing” for commanders. He was being questioned by Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council. (While the clip above includes a snippet of the conversation, we’re quoting the full-length interview.)
“These training vignettes that they have, and the proposed training policies are very, very problematic on moral conscience. This is a concern for all Americans, Tony, because our taxes are being asked to be used to not only further this, but also do surgeries, medical treatments, transitioning protocols.”
To provide an example of how “problematic” these training scenarios are, Russell read what he claims to be vignette #6:
“A soldier has completed army gender transition from female to male as indicated in the department enrollment system. The soldier did not have a sex reassignment surgery and recently stopped taking male hormones in order to try and start a family. Today, the soldier approached his commanding officer to discuss his newly confirmed pregnancy.”
Russell adds that this example is “fraught with confusion.” Based on his repeated emphasis of the word his, that confusion seems to stem from the fact that someone who prefers to be called “him” instead of “her” could become pregnant. Frankly, if this basic logic confuses you, you probably shouldn’t be leading 1,000 soldiers into battle.
“Me, as a formal battle commander, commander of 1,000 soldiers in a task force in Iraq, I’ve served in combat in Afghanistan and the Balkans. This is something that will really cause a lot of confusion and problems for commanders, and it does nothing to promote our military and readiness. Nothing at all.”
At this point in the interview, Perkins chimes in to say these rules regarding trans openness in the military would “hinder readiness,” and Russell heartily agrees (around the 6:50 mark). He adds that readiness could be hindered when soldiers who don’t want to deploy pretend to be trans to get out of it. As if that’s something that would ever happen.
“It absolutely would hinder [readiness]… Now you’ve got a construct where soldiers who don’t want to deploy can throw this monkey wrench in the machinery, and you’re underwriting it with your tax dollars.”
Fortunately, it seems like the Pentagon’s attempt to create a “welcoming environment” for transgender people will continue unhindered. Russell said that he has not seen “folks that want to come forth to fight the issue.”