After the U.S. Supreme Court upheld marriage equality in 2015, Religious Right groups did a quick pivot from that issue and began attacking transgender people.
They have a powerful ally in this crude crusade: President Donald Trump. Trump, reportedly at the urging of his council of far-right evangelical advisers, abruptly banned transgender troops from the military, a policy he announced via Twitter. Trump didn't even bother to consult top military officials on the matter, and some of them made it clear that they don't agree.
Litigation resulted over the matter, and the Supreme Court has allowed the ban to remain in place while lower courts consider the legal challenges to it.
More recently, the Department of Housing and Urban Development announced that it will do away with a rule promulgated by the Barack Obama administration that prevents single-sex homeless shelters from discriminating on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity. Trump's proposed policy is obviously designed to allow shelters to refuse to house transgender people.
The rationale for these arbitrary and cruel policies is vague at best. Even Trump himself can't seem to defend them. This is, perhaps, not surprising given the president's general inarticulateness, but on the question of transgender troops Trump was worse than usual.
Trump was asked about the ban by TV host Piers Morgan last month --and immediately began flailing.
"Because they take massive amounts of drugs, they have to and also, and you're not allowed to take drugs," Trump said. "You're in the military, you're not allowed to take any drugs. You take an aspirin. And they have to after the operation. They have to. They have no choice. And you would actually have to break rules and regulations in order to have that."
While it is difficult to cut through this kind of incoherence, it's important to try because even in this era of "fake news," the truth really does matter--and what Trump is saying here lacks even a passing relationship to the truth.
First of all, the men and women serving in the military take drugs all the time. Taking illegal substances isn't permitted, of course; but service personnel, like millions of other Americans, take prescription drugs.
Many transgender men and women take hormones prescribed for them by a physician. This is no different from a service member who might take medicine to control high blood pressure or high cholesterol, or deal with other conditions. There's...