Former Navy Seal Team 6 member Kristen Beck, who is transgender, spoke out against Trump’s decision to ban transgender people from the military on Wednesday, just a fraction of the tidal wave of opposition that rolled in after Trump’s snap decision on the matter.
“Let’s meet face to face and you tell me I’m not worthy,” Beck said in an interview with Business Insider. “Transgender doesn’t matter. Do your service.”
Trump’s claim that the decision to ban transgender service members came because of the cost of medical services was laughable, Beck added.
“The money is negligible,” said Beck. “You’re talking about .000001 percent of the military budget. They care more about the airplane or the tank than they care about people. They don’t care about people. They don’t care about human beings.” In fact, the cost is so miniscule, The Washington Post reported, that the military actually spends about five times more on Viagra than it does on medical care for transgender troops.
(If you’re wondering why the American military spends so much cash on erectile dysfunction drugs, here’s a handy explainer. Now back to the topic at hand.)
A 20-year veteran of the Navy SEALs, Beck, who was born Christopher Beck, had served with SEAL Teams 1, 5, and 6. Beck was deployed 13 times, served in Bosnia, Iraq, and Afghanistan, and won a Bronze Star for valor and a Purple Heart after being injured in combat.
Asked about whether she thought the transgender ban could be justified on the basis of unit cohesion, Beck said that actual professionals know better than to make such assumptions.
“A very professional unit with great leadership wouldn’t have a problem,” Beck explained. “I can have a Muslim serving right beside Jerry Falwell, and we’re not going to have a problem. It’s a leadership issue, not a transgender issue.”
Logan Ireland, a transgender Army soldier who was featured in a New York Times documentary about being trans in the military, also spoke out about Trump’s decision. In an interview with The Air Force Times, Ireland said, “I would like to see them try to kick me out of my military. You are not going to deny me my right to serve my country when I am fully qualified and able and willing to give my life.”
Meanwhile on Thursday, the Pentagon announced in a statement that transgender service members will be allowed to remain in the military for now. There are between 1,320 and 6,630 transgender people serving in the military, according to a study by the RAND Corporation that was commissioned by the Department of Defense. Other estimates have put the number around 15,000.