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Trump fighting from all fronts

By Abdu Rafiu
10 August 2017   |   4:00 am
Two weeks ago, Mr. Trump announced the barring of transgender people from serving in the military, a move that took Defence Secretary James Mattis by surprise. Veteran Affairs Secretary David Shulkin did not fare any better.

US President Donald Trump makes an announcement on immigration at the White House in Washington, DC, on August 2, 2017. / AFP PHOTO / JIM WATSON

The United States President, Mr. Donald Trump, is not one to be wanting in pulling surprises. With reality staring everyone in the face, Mr. Trump has asked that the United States be pulled out of Paris agreement on climate change. Well, not quite a surprise because he said during his presidential campaigns that he would do so. Asking his Administration to formally ask America to withdraw is in compliance with the position he announced to the world, unwelcome as it then was and still is, thus shooting down Mr. Obama’s commitment to the Agreement. The Agreement is intended to reduce carbon emissions and keep global warming to below two degrees Celsius and by 2025 so evidently down.

The hope is in the resolve of more than 550 legislators from all over the United States to continue to honour what they have described as the goals of the Agreement “to protect the future of our children and our children’s children and build the clean energy economy of tomorrow,” according to California State Senate Leader, Kevin de Leon. He went on to slam Mr. Trump as having proven that he lacks what it takes to lead the world “ in the face of an existential threat like climate change.” Another Senator has called on state governments and local government in the U.S. to come to forge a unity of purpose and strengthen resolve to achieve the carbon pollution reductions agreed to in Paris two years ago. About 200 countries signed the Agreement. It is touching to hear Angela Merkel say notwithstanding the American withdrawal she would “continue to work hard to save the Earth.” Her Chinese opposite number, Premier Li Keqiang speaking in the same vein, said the battle against climate change is a “global consensus” and an “international responsibility.” The 45 states in the U.S. who oppose Mr. Trump are saying, in the words of Washington Senator Kevin Ranker: “Climate change is not a conspiracy, a hoax, or a partisan cause. Climate change is real and is caused by human activity.”

Mr. Trump’s argument is that the agreement was hastily drawn up and signed by his predecessor, Mr. Obama, out of what he called the latter’s desperation. It is his contention that the Agreement would hit the American coal industry hard and this must necessitate America withdrawing, a step Vice-President Mike Pence predictably and elatedly called “putting American energy first.” ‘…and I happen to love the coal miners,’ said Mr. Trump. The withdrawal is also to boost American independence.

Fierce fire has been sweeping through a number of countries in Europe and floods many through nations in Africa. The worsening weather experiences have been blamed on the shibboleth—climate change. Among the push factors for the change is unremitted greenhouse gas emissions and unconscionable tampering with nature. Of course, a more farsighted school of thought is attributing it to a feature of a Cosmic Turning Point, transiting our world from the old to a New Age, the main characteristic of which is abundance of power now being poured into our universe with its animating forces, bringing about an awakening in man and the reinvigorating of the elements. Common sense, therefore, ought to dictate to all world leaders that this is not the time to defend narrow national interests.

Two weeks ago, Mr. Trump announced the barring of transgender people from serving in the military, a move that took Defence Secretary James Mattis by surprise. Veteran Affairs Secretary David Shulkin did not fare any better. He said he learned of the policy change through Mr. Trump’s tweet. Mr. Trump said the ban became necessary so that the military can be focused. Said he: “Our military must be focused on decisive and overwhelming victory and cannot be burdened with tremendous medical costs and disruption that transgender in the military would entail.” The ban is good music in the ears of the Republican legislators with whom he has been wrestling in the ill-starred efforts to throw away Obamacare. He believes barring transgender would get him on the same page in the drive to jettison Health Act enacted by the Obama Administration. He is looking at savings that would be made on the military budget. If the law is repealed about 22 million Americans will be without a government assisted health insurance. How does he strike a balance between savings on the military costs and spending less on the vulnerable citizens health insurance is the enigma.

There are 15,000 service members who are transgender. The gender reassignment as the gender change is also called costs between $2.5 million to $8.5 million annually. There is also the complaint that military spending on erectile dysfunction drugs is even 10 times as much as that yearly. Naturally, Mr. Trump’s move has led to grumbling in the military. Those affected say it was something that was thoroughly examined and was seen that there was no scientific reason why transgender people cannot serve. “It is unprecedented,” one of those affected, who turned from a man to a woman and who has been in service for 18 years including three combat deployments to Afghanistan, said. “This is inappropriate for President Trump to come and tell military leaders how to lead their troops.” The military leaders themselves said they do not take directives through tweets. It will be interesting to see how the seeming impasse will be resolved especially as the military chiefs said they were not consulted.

What is of greater interest and perhaps introspection is the enigma of what is called transgender which results in the person concerned doing something about gender identity crisis, of being polygender, a state of man being in between or having both genders; it is also referred to as multiple genders. There are 700,000 people who have come out living publicly as transgender in the United States. Scientists say transgender is assigning someone’s sex based on biology, chromosomes, anatomy and hormones, but that a person’s gender identity—the inner sense of being male, female or both –doesn’t always match their biology. A writer familiar with the subject reports transgender people as saying that they were assigned a sex that isn’t true to who they are. Transgender is thus making biological changes to match the way they feel inside them.

The first person to undergo gender reassignment was a Danish artist who died from transplant rejection and infections resulting from the surgery in 1948 at the age of 66. The surgery took place in Germany. The most sensational such rearrangement was that of Bruce Jenner in 2015 at over 60 years of age— an athlete who had been well known in the world of sports and was at his time regarded as the “the greatest athlete in the world.” He was an Olympic gold medalist. There have been other athletes who have undergone a similar sex change. Chris Jenner, his wife of 23 years had to part ways with him after her husband became Caitlyn Marie Jenner. They have two daughters together—Kendall and Kylie Jenner. Last April, Jenner launched her memoir, “The story of my life,” which raised a great deal of dust in the family. Chris Jenner says she has had trouble adjusting to Caitlyn’s transition.

It is the same unease that is felt in some American public, even though they have accepted the condition as a fact of life they can do nothing about, a situation that also affects the transgender themselves. It has caused rows in colleges over conveniences and bathrooms transgender people can use. For instance, there is resistance to the U.S. government directive that all schools in all states should allow transgender students use whatever gender bathroom they identify with, threatening to withhold funding for education unless the states complied. Eleven states have sued the government dismissing the move as a “massive social experiment.” Texas State Governor, Greg Abbott is reported to be determined not to comply at the risk of losing $10 billion education fund from the Federal authorities. He argues that the directive violates the American constitution. Parents in the states that sued the government have also taken exception to the directive, accusing the government of lack of consultation.

In Britain, the Transport of London has announced changing the way commuters using the underground trains are addressed in deference to transgender people. It is no longer “Ladies and Gentlemen” explaining that the phrase ladies and gentlemen acknowledges only two genders whereas, according to their claim, there is a third gender. The new language is “Good morning everyone.” Mark Evers, director of customer strategy, said “We want everyone to feel welcome on our transport network. We have reviewed the language that we use in announcements and elsewhere and will make sure that it is fully inclusive, reflecting the great diversity of London.” It is the same loving consideration that obtains in Sweden. Gender transformation is protected by that country’s Establishment of Gender Act of 1972.

The military servicemen affected by Mr. Trump’s ban argue that it is coming on the 69th anniversary of the desegregation of the military, precisely on 26 July, 1948, through an executive order signed by President Truman.

The transgender people must be perplexed by their sexual orientation just as those who don’t suffer such an identity crisis find the condition totally imponderable. The transgender all say while grappling with their condition that they felt different within them from what their biological clothing portrayed. They felt clearly that they are a duality, but what they cannot understand is why the inner structure does not correspondent with the outward biological manifestation. Regardless of the change, there is still this feeling deep within them of not being it. And that is the clang! Who is that that is restless and ill at ease within longing for manifestation?

Next week: Understanding the phenomenon with love.