Donald Trump was asked this week to defend his ban on allowing transgender Americans to serve in the military. The president responded by pointing to a policy that doesn't exist.
"You're in the military, you're not allowed to take any drugs," Trump said after insisting that transgender Americans have to "take massive amounts of drugs." He added, "And they have to after the operation. They have to. They have no choice. And you would actually have to break rules and regulations in order to have that."
None of this was true. In fact, most of it was nonsensical: plenty of active-duty servicemen and women take prescription medications, including hormone therapy. For that matter, Trump assumed that all transgender people undergo surgery and/or take prescription hormones, and that's wrong, too.
What was surprising, however, was the Pentagon's willingness to acknowledge the president's mistake. In response to a question from the Washington Post, a Defense Department spokesperson contradicted Trump's claims on the record.
"The Military Health System covers all approved medically necessary treatments and prescription medications," DOD spokeswoman Jessica Maxwell said. "If a service member has a hormone deficiency for any reason (such as hypogonadism, hypothyroidism, menopause, etc.), he or she would be prescribed hormones."Maxwell also assured that existing troops who had been diagnosed with gender dysphoria before the transgender ban went into place in April "will continue to receive all medically necessary treatment."
In case it's not obvious, the Department of Defense does not routinely contradict the president publicly, and I can only hope spokeswoman Jessica Maxwell doesn't face any adverse consequences for having told the Post the truth.
As for the larger point, as we discussed the other day, Trump has had 23 months to come up with an argument to defend his discriminatory policy. If he still can't think of one after all this time, perhaps he should end the ban?