Being Right

Lost within the frenzy of emotional arguments surrounding the Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity and Expression (SOGIE) bills (HBs 134/136 and SBs 159/412/689) is the fact that a valuable sector of our society has been kept silent. Not much heard regarding its obviously important opinions, views, experiences, and insights as to the propriety (or absence of it) of the proposed legislation.

Interestingly, the SOGIE bills are particularly keen to target this sector, putting clear emphasis that it is subjected to and covered under the impositions sought to be legislated.

But unlike the LGBT+ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender), whose permutations have been continuously declared to be beyond binary, “like a rainbow,” this sector, by necessity, lives almost in a manichean world: win or die; its members working under — to be dramatic about it — a single-minded purpose: Be a better killer than our country’s enemies.

That sector, of course, is our military.

That the House SOGIE bills give special mention to our Armed Forces is quite obvious: thus, it is criminal to “deny employment in government institutions, including police, military, or uniformed personnel in government service, based directly or indirectly” on grounds of sexual orientation or gender identity, i.e., treating a person less favorably on the basis of SOGIE.

This is bolstered stolidly by the Senate versions, imposing criminal liabilities if an employer “include SOGIE, as well as the disclosure of sexual orientation, in the criteria for hiring, promotion, transfer, designation, work assignment, reassignment, dismissal of workers, and other human resource movement and action, performance review and in the determination of employee compensation, career development opportunities, training, and other learning and development interventions, incentives, privileges, benefits or allowances, and other terms and conditions of employment: Provided, that this provision shall apply to employment in both the private sector and public service, including military, police, and other similar services.”

But the two aforementioned passages are exceedingly vague, dependent wholly on the subjective opinion of the LGBT+ concerned. Much of what can constitute identity or orientation cannot be seen through clothing or even at skin level. Science tells us no LGBT+ blood or gene exists.

There is no factual, scientific, or objective standard with which the armed forces can rely on to comply with the requirements of the proposed SOGIE bills. And yet, the military is made vulnerable to legal liability for simply failing to identify the very particular kind of people covered by a special law.

Nevertheless, the SOGIE bills demand that the LGBT+ (plus its gazillion permutations) be given the “right” to serve in the military. Because they feel they’re entitled to it.

But military service isn’t a right, it’s a privilege: despite feelings, only those fit and tough enough, without the cost of possibly wrecking necessary military unity and obedience, should be allowed to serve.

And it’s infinitely more costly to ask our military to change for a few feelings rather than ask citizens to change to be fit for the military.

Summarizing the Heritage Foundation’s Dr. Ryan Anderson’s article (“5 Good Reasons Why Transgender Accommodations Aren’t Compatible With Military Realities,” July 26, 2017), the following are further reasons why the SOGIE bills — in this case, focusing on transgenders — is an imprudent idea:

1. The privacy of service members must not be infringed. This refers specially to facilities reserved for women.

2. Service members must remain combat-ready at all times. Transgenders require regular hormone treatments and follow-up visits after sex-reassignment surgery, making their deployability unclear.

3. All service members must be held to the same physical fitness standards, these standards being based on biological realities, not subjective “gender identity.” Simply put, men who identify as women should not be held to a lower standard than other men, and such standard being that which the military has determined is most effective for combat.

4. Scarce taxpayer monies must not be expended for costly and controversial sex-reassignment therapies.

5. Medical judgment, conscience rights, and religious liberty of military doctors, chaplains, commanding officers, and fellow service members should be respected.

Add to that the high transgender suicide rate. As Dr. Anderson points out: “41% of people who identify as transgender will attempt suicide at some point in their lives, compared to 4.6% of the general population. And people who have had transition surgery are 19 times more likely than average to die by suicide.”

Also, Dr. Anderson: “People who identify as transgender suffer a host of mental health and social problems — including anxiety, depression, and substance abuse — at higher rates than the general population. Biology isn’t bigotry, and we need a sober and honest assessment of the human costs of getting human nature wrong.”

It is therefore quite logical for 61% of the US military to disapprove of transgenders in the military. And with more than 200 countries in the world, only 19 allow transgenders to serve.

The military deals with reality not feelings, politics, or social experiments. For our country’s sake, let’s not change that.


Jemy Gatdula is a Senior Fellow of the Philippine Council for Foreign Relations and a Philippine Judicial Academy law lecturer for constitutional philosophy and jurisprudence.

Twitter @jemygatdula