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Mike Huckabee: The point of the military is to "kill people and break things"

Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee doesn't think transgender soldiers should be allowed to serve openly in the military because the military is meant to "kill people and break things," not serve as "a social experiment."

Update: Coverage of the second Republican debate.

"I'm not sure how paying for transgender surgery for soldiers, sailors, airmen, Marines makes our country safer," Huckabee said.

The problem with Huckabee's argument is that the question isn't whether trans soldiers should serve, but whether they should be allowed to serve openly. And there's some evidence that not letting trans soldiers get the gender-affirming treatments they need can lead to mental health issues that can then cause problems in the field.

About 15,500 trans people serve in the military, according to the Williams Institute, an LGBTQ think tank. These troops are forced into hiding. As a result, many can't get treatments for their gender dysphoria, a state of emotional distress caused by how the gender someone was designated at birth conflicts with their gender identity. This condition doesn't affect all trans people, but for some it can lead to severe depression, anxiety, and suicidal ideation.

So all trans soldiers could potentially serve without problems if they were allowed to do so openly and got the care they need. But by blocking access to that care, the military risks pushing trans people into hiding and stops the treatment and prevention of mental health issues that can lead to actual problems when they're on duty.