White or black, Christian or Muslim, male or female. A newly minted Canadian who recently arrived from Syria, or a fifth generation Canadian who traces his heritage back to Edinburgh. Gay or straight, conservative or liberal, young or old.
It doesn’t matter what category you fall into: you should be proud to be Canadian. That’s not to say Canada isn’t a country without problems. We have crime, homeless people, issues with employment that routinely send able-bodied folks from the east coast toward Alberta just to make a buck. But generally speaking, we have it pretty good. We have freedom of expression, universal health care, a free press, and leaders who are not tyrannical.
We’re also, apparently, the envy of the editors of Rolling Stone. Recently, a photo of Justin Trudeau appeared on the magazine’s cover with a subheading that read, “Why Can’t He Be Our President?”
The answer to that question, frankly, isn’t as interesting as the fact that the question is being asked in the first place. Right now, our neighbours to the south are deeply divided. The Republicans were able to send their man to the White House, but the population has bestowed him with one of the lowest approval ratings in modern history.
One of Trump’s most recent divisive moves was to announce, via Twitter, that transgendered people will no longer be allowed to serve in the U.S. military. It still remains to be seen how that statement will be legislated into law (or if it even will be) but the point remains that the American president does not want transgendered people in his military.
Interesting, while the Trump Administration looks to ban the transgendered, the Canadian Military is doing the opposite. Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan offered the following comment to media, following Trump’s recent Twitter rant.
“Our diversity strategy and action plan will promote an institution-wide culture that embraces diversity and inclusion, and we will continue to focus on the recruitment and retention of under-represented groups within the Canadian Forces’ ranks,” said Jordan Owens, a media agent for Sajjan.
So, which perspective is right? Should we keep the transgendered out of the military or ought we allow them to fight?
Well, so far, the only reasonable argument made from the Trump camp is that gender reassignment surgery is too costly for the military. On the face of it, that position is defendable. After all, an employer should not necessarily be on the hook for all medical procedures an employee undergoes.
However, once we start peeling the onion, we find that gender reassignment surgery isn’t a major hit to the military’s pocketbook. According to forbes.com, the annual cost of gender-related care for soldiers is between $2.4 and $8.4 million. Let’s go with the high end of that spectrum. Let’s assume that transgender soldiers would cost the military upwards of $10 million a year.
That number seems staggering until we realize the American military’s health care expenditures (numbers from 2014 here) topped out at $49.3 billion.
That means less than .02 percent of the military’s health care budget was spent on gender treatment for the transgendered. This means Trump’s argument for banning trans-soldiers is simply hot air.
There is another reason that people may want to keep the transgendered out of the military, and explaining it requires far less algebra. Some people just don’t like the transgendered, or any of their cohorts in the LGBT community. It’s biased and hateful, but there is no law forbidding people from being jerks.
Canada has jerks too, of course. No one would maintain that American bigots hold the patent on acting badly. With that, it’s more than reasonable to say that most Americans aren’t bigots, which is evident in that so many are opposing Trump and his banning policies.
Here in Canada, we can be proud that we don’t need to take such a stand against our leader. Here, any patriot who wants to join the military has a right to.