Last week, Donald Trump announced (on Twitter, no less) his latest policy, which will ban transgender people from serving in the US military. No details on how the policy will be implemented were given, but his reasoning, which has sparked suitable outrage around the world, was cited as being the ‘burden’ of the tremendous medical costs and disruption that having transgender people in the military entails. This comes a month after Defence Secretary Jim Mattis said the government was reviewing whether allowing transgender individuals to enlist impacts the military’s ‘readiness and lethality’.
Alasdair Scott, Chemistry’s Head of Inclusion & Wellbeing, was incensed when news of the President’s latest political Twitter move broke. He said: ‘It was hard not to get emotional and defensive about what I saw as an attack on people close to me, on our shared community.’ Also dismayed by the news was Carol Rosati OBE, Managing Partner of Chemical Connections here at Chemistry, who said: ‘Personally, I think that anyone who has enough courage to serve their country and put their life on the line, regardless of their ethnicity, religion or gender, should be respected and honoured, not stigmatised and effectively ostracised for being different.’
Whether you’re cisgender, queer or transgender, you are an integral part of society – and we should all have the right to serve that society, through its defence or otherwise. Alasdair believes that using ‘negligible expense as justification for blatant discrimination is lazy and cowardly.’ After a little digging, Alasdair found that the annual cost of the US military of gender confirmation surgery was 0.004% of the Department of Defense’s entire healthcare spending in 2014. Which begs the question: What is this policy really about? Is Trump trying to satisfy and/or distract the extreme right of his party? Do all roads, in fact, lead to Russia?
The point is: how an individual identifies themselves has nothing to do with their ability to perform their role. ‘Disruption’ and ‘expense’ are unacceptable excuses for what is blatant discrimination – a level of discrimination that’s astonishing for the age we live in. And since there is no federal employment protection for transgender people against workplace discrimination in the US, President Trump’s latest policy is legal and binding. This puts more onus than ever on objective working practices; more onus than ever on stressing the positive impact to be had in looking past characteristics like gender and measuring a person’s suitability for a role based purely on their intrinsic and extrinsic traits and behaviours.
Chemistry’s 5-Box Model does exactly that – and it’s why we do what we do every day: working with organisations all over the world to help more people find their opportunity to be brilliant at work, regardless of who they are. Just as retired US Navy admiral John Kirby tweeted in response to Trump’s policy announcement: Diversity is strength.
‘I cannot imagine,’ says Carol, ‘how the thousands of transgender individuals in the US military must feel. Despite having no doubt already faced so much prejudice in their lives, they’ve still had the courage to follow their journey, devoting themselves to protecting their country, only to be told they are not wanted or valued.’ Alasdair reckons the most galling part is the fact that hard-working, dedicated, capable people are being discriminated against purely for being their authentic selves: ‘It leaves such a bad taste in the mouth when someone who is putting their life on the line is told, by someone who has never seen active service, that they don’t have the right to be there. It smacks of privilege bias, a severe lack of empathy and a total lack of respect. It’s so unjust.’
For more on The T in LGBT – click here to read Alasdair’s blog, which investigates the impact of gender struggle on employee engagement and employment.
Image credit: Gage Skidmore