Objecting to ROTC on anti-discrimination grounds


One remaining objection to ROTC after the repeal “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” is that the military still discriminates against transgender individuals. From the new rotc.stanford.edu site (which is run by anti-ROTC student groups):

Didn’t the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” end institutional discrimination in the military?

No! Transgender individuals are still subject to de jure discrimination, and there are also many significant forms of de facto discrimination. For more information, see this article, written on behalf of Stanford Students for Queer Liberation (SSQL), as well as the open letter that SSQL recently wrote to the University administration.

No doubt transgender individuals are the victims of terrible discrimination in the military. And in the workplace, in public, at the DMV, at home, and even on the Stanford campus. Our society’s and our governments’ treatment of transgender individuals is highly unjust. As an optimist, I believe that within my lifetime our society and governments will accept transgender individuals, but for now their lives are tough in a million ways that I can’t even imagine.

Even when the day comes that transgender individuals are accepted in every corner of society, there will be always be another group subject to discrimination. You and I have no way of knowing who our future society will discriminate against–maybe it’ll be capitalists, or meat eaters, or people who weren’t genetically enhanced–but I am certain we will discriminate against some group. It is human nature to discriminate (regrettable as it is, in this context).

The members of Stanford Students for Queer Liberation (SSQL) are right to fight for transgender equality. I am sympathetic to their cause and believe that history will prove them right.

But I would like to question those whose stated reason for opposing ROTC is the existence of discrimination in the military. It’s a safe bet that as a government institution insulated from outside pressures, the military will always lag behind society in its acceptance of minority groups. The military will always discriminate. Are you, then, absolutely opposed to ROTC, or do you see some acceptable level of military discrimination where it would be a net benefit for Stanford to have ROTC?

(I know that most anti-ROTC students have a variety of other reasons for their opposition, but I’m wondering about this one particular objection because I don’t think that it’s been fully thought out.)


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