Army Secretary Says to Most of the Army: “You Don’t Provide Value to Me”

by Palm Center | June 11, 2019

During events in Normandy to commemorate the 75th anniversary of D-Day, the Secretary of the Army, Mark Esper, gave an interview to Christine Amanpour of CNN. In an effort to justify why Trump’s Defense Department switched to a ban on transgender military service, he managed to carelessly disregard the contributions of the 85% of the Army who don’t serve in infantry positions:

“If you can’t do what the young men and women of 1944 did and get on a Higgins boat and traverse the English Channel and land on Omaha Beach, if you can’t get inside a C-47 and put a parachute on and drop into combat, then you don’t provide value to me as an army. I need soldiers who can do that.”

What a thing to say about members of the military who are only doing the jobs they are asked to do: “You don’t provide value to me.”

“You don’t provide value to me” would also be a way to describe Esper’s perspective on transgender soldiers. In this interview, Esper turned the transgender ban completely on its head. In a series of softball questions from CNN’s Amanpour, he managed to flip the meaning of a policy that permanently disqualifies all applicants who have transitioned gender as a civilian, discharges anyone in service with a medical need to transition gender (except for a grandfathered few), and denies proper medical care to people serving in uniform.

The short version is that Esper claims the military in fact WELCOMES transgender people. He claims that transgender people only need to be qualified and ready to deploy, just like everyone else.

(Be aware that both interviewer and interviewee carelessly use “transgender” as a noun, rather than an adjective, a particularly dehumanizing way of talking about transgender people.)

AMANPOUR: So currently, you would accept transgenders if like any other person they’re able to serve?


AMANPOUR: So there is no blanket ban as far as you’re concerned?

ESPER: No, there’s no blanket ban. Again, we look at each individual as they come in.

Generally, when a misrepresentation is the biggest, the explanation necessary to correct it can be the longest. Fortunately, the Palm Center has assembled two graphics that quickly explain why DOD is not being honest when it floats the idea that the transgender ban is not actually a ban at all:

1. “Lies to Know About DOD’s New Policy on Military Service by Transgender Persons and Persons With Gender Dysphoria”

2.  “A Ban on Quacking Is a Ban on Ducks: How Trump’s Transgender Military Policy Functions as an Outright Ban”