Trump’s Army Secretary Pick Is Disturbingly Transphobic

Tennessee state senator Mark Green has authored some outrageous anti-LGBT legislation while in office. Now, as Trump’s pick for army secretary, Green represents yet another blow to LGBT equality and threatens to be a chilling force for transgender troops, in particular.

The Tennessean reports:

The Secretary of the Army, which is the top civilian leader for the U.S. Army, has oversight of the 140-plus Army reserve installations worldwide and an approximately $150 billion budget.

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Green has been going through standard background checks, another source close to the search said.

The military is currently integrating openly transgender troops after lifting its formal ban last year. This has enabled trans service members to serve their country while gender-affirmed — something that is vital for their mental and physical health.

As Army Secretary, Green would not have a direct influence on open trans service, but his elevation to this top civilian role sets a dangerous precedent for the Trump administration’s relationship with LGBT people in and out of the military.

Green, whose military service included three separate deployments overseas, has been caught on video referring to transgender identity as a “disease.”

Slate reports:

In video footage of Green speaking to the Chattanooga Tea Party last fall, the senator, who is a physician and Iraq War veteran, blasted recent progress in military personnel policy. Citing psychiatric expertise, he said that “transgender is a disease” even though the American Psychiatric Association removed “gender identity disorder” from its list of mental illnesses nearly five years ago, and the military lifted its ban on transgender service without incident.

Also, as a doctor, Green should be aware of the harm of pathologizing those who are not mentally ill. And he should know the difference between someone’s identity and a condition like gender dysphoria, which can arise for some trans people who are not able to live gender-affirmed. The fact that Green fails to make these distinctions is both telling of his personal agenda and of his professional conduct.

Unfortunately, these remarks were not an isolated incident. Green has repeatedly spoken out about his factually incorrect belief that allowing trans people to use the facilities that accord with their gender will lead to more sexual assaults.

He told Huffington Post  in a radio interview last year:

There are 300,000 rapes in the United States every year. Three hundred thousand women who are sexually assaulted by predators. We know this. It’s documented. It’s factual. To think that some young guy isn’t going to take advantage of the system where we’re going to allow guys to go into the bathroom ― the women’s bathroom ― to think that it’s not going to happen is just ridiculous.

This is a demonstrably false claim. Law professionals and policy experts have repeatedly shown that when trans protections are enacted —  either at the local or state level — the result is, unsurprisingly, expanded trans rights. There is no meaningful increase in incidents of sexual assault against women or children. Sexual predators simply aren’t enabled by these policies.

What these policies do achieve, however, is protection for trans people, whom studies show are among the most vulnerable in our society.

These facts have not stopped Green from using legislation to target LGBT protections at the state level. Tennessee has previously used its legislative power to ensure that local governments cannot exceed state protections. And that means they cannot protect LGBT people. That said, it is traditionally acknowledged — even in hostile states like Tennessee — that businesses must comply with federal nondiscrimination policies. But not if Green has his way.

Senate Bill 0127 would prevent legal action against any business for hiring and firing or benefits decisions that already comply with state law. In effect, Green aims to use a convoluted route to ensure that businesses are entirely shielded from LGBT rights discrimination claims.

This legislation clearly rallies against federal precedent, showing a disturbing failure to recognize the authority of the federal courts. Despite the Trump administration’s recent efforts, these courts have largely continued to operate with the Obama-era view that trans rights, and LGBT rights as a whole, may already be protected under sex discrimination claims.

Green’s voting record is also of concern — and not just for LGBTs. While he may have cited rape statistics in his attack on trans rights, Green has shown little care for the survivors of rape. For example, he has consistently voted to tighten all abortion access, as well as voting for mandatory waiting periods and the de-licensing of abortion facilities.

In addition to this, Green has been an ardent supporter of increasing gun ownership and allowing guns in public spaces. And he’s acted, along with many in the Tennessee Republican party, to try to block refugee resettlement.

Green, who is currently a candidate for Tennessee governor, has also frequently made use of his religious faith as a major prop to his political campaign. He has previously spoken of a need to “crush” evil, stating in a radio interview:

So I’m going to protect women in their bathrooms, and I’m going to protect our state against potential infiltration from the Syrian ISIS people in the refugee program. And whoever wants to stand up and take me on that, I’m ready to fight.

While it would be incorrect to fully characterize Green’s potential performance as army secretary — as we simply don’t know what he might do in that position — his past actions and statements raise significant doubts about his ability to honor the Constitution while serving in such an important role.

Green’s inflammatory, and indeed dangerous, language surrounding LGBT rights also raises significant doubt over whether he would be an advocate to ensure that LGBT service personnel are treated fairly.

Lastly, it’s worth returning to President Trump’s insistence that he is a friend to LGBT people. This, it seems, was empty rhetoric as Trump has consistently elevated those who are among the most ardent anti-LGBT politicians, judges and spokespeople to vital roles in his administration — and it is little surprise that his pick for the top civilian army job is any different.

Photo Credit: NATO Training Mission-Afghanistan/Flickr

57 comments

Marie W
Marie W1 months ago

Thanks for sharing

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Carl R
Carl R6 months ago

Thanks!!!!

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Carl R
Carl R6 months ago

Thanks!!!

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Karen H
Karen H6 months ago

I chatted with someone from my congressman's office about rape in the military. Sounds like they're trying to do something about it. However, that may all be for naught if Green has anything to say about it. Time to write another email. 106 since Inauguration Day.

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Janis K
Janis K6 months ago

Thanks for sharing.

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Karen S
Karen Swenson6 months ago

How about the Military actually doing something, anything about their horrendous problem of Rape and sexual harassment and quit worrying about who pees where. If he thinks that many young heterosexual men are going to take advantage and sneak into womens bathrooms, then I think the name "disease" belongs to these young men and there is something terribly wrong with men these days and shouldn't be in the military, or anywhere else, except in jail.. It's way past time to stop thinking this is just a normal past time for heterosexual males, while at the same time calling Transexuals diseased..

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Margie FOURIE
Margie F7 months ago

Thank you

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Leo C
Leo C7 months ago

Thank you for sharing!

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Danuta W
Danuta W7 months ago

Thank you for sharing

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Liliana G
Liliana Garcia7 months ago

Just terrible but not surprising. On the same breath, Mr. Green talks about protecting women in the bathroom and protecting the refugee camps from ISIS members, while at the same time not wanting any refugees to begin with! There's something not logical here aside from his bigoted stance which appeared to be well known by many here.

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