Trump Military Ban Indicates Attempt to Make Trans People Second Class Citizens

Does the American Dream only apply to cisgender people?

Update July, 27 3:30pm: Trans service members may remain in their positions in the US military, Gen. Joseph F. Dunford Jr. the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff said in a a letter to the military service chiefs. “In the meantime, we will continue to treat all of our personnel with respect,” General Dunford said in the letter.

Chief Pentagon spokeswoman Dana White said that the Defense Department will provide official detailed guidance in the “near future” on plans for if and how Trump’s tweets will turn into actual policy. This open-ended comment reflects some challenges the Pentagon is now facing: how will they put in place a policy that was not announced with a plan behind it. 

“The service of men and women who volunteer and who meet our standards of service is a blessing, not a burden,” tweeted Gen. Martin Dempsey, the former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

A ripple of fear ran through the American transgender community today as President Trump tweeted his decision to ban trans people from the military. The announcement itself is bad enough on its own, with as many as 10,000 openly serving troops facing a discharge from the military and set to join the already burgeoning trans unemployment line. Beyond the direct economic impact is the fear of what comes next from the administration. Simply put, the Trump administration and the GOP who back him are moving swiftly towards making trans people into second class citizens.

In justifying his ban, Trump cited cooked up numbers from religious groups about the cost of transgender health care. They questioned the military readiness of trans troops who are already on active duty and serving their countries honorably. The military has repeatedly studied the readiness and costs of accommodating trans troops and were ready to join our allies in the UK, Canada, and Israel, among others who fully welcome trans enlistments. Instead Republicans decided to play politics to appeal to their religious base voters while selling out the good and honorable trans service members already openly serving to protect our country.

Related: Trump’s Trans Military Ban Has Far Reaching Implications
Transgender former US Navy Seal Senior Chief Kristin Beck speaks during a conference entitled
Transgender former US Navy Seal Senior Chief Kristin Beck speaks during a conference entitled “Perspectives on Transgender Military Service from Around the Globe” organized by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) Photo by Nicholas Kann via Getty Images

Not only did Trump ban trans people from the military, but the Department of Justice also filed a brief in federal court reversing a previous policy which stated that discriminating on the basis of gender identity is illegal. Couple this brief with the news that broke last week that a bill (HR 2796) was filed that would explicitly exclude “sex” under existing civil rights laws from including gender identity, and it’s been a devastating week for trans Americans.

It’s not just about trans people in the military, this feels much bigger than one military policy, it feels like we’re being cut out from the fabric of our own nation. It’s about trans kids being denied educational opportunities, it’s about being dependent on the benevolence of our employers rather than the sum of our hard work. All we’ve ever asked is for fair treatment and equal opportunity and the Trump administration has instead put their boots on our collective necks. What lies ahead for trans people under total GOP control?

What lies ahead for trans people under total GOP control?

The sum of these actions indicate that the GOP sees no place for transgender people in American society. For all of their platitudes about American exceptionalism, the GOP is actively causing harm to one of the country’s most vulnerable communities. While preaching that we need to pull ourselves up by our bootstraps, Republicans insists on cutting off our hands in the act. Does the American Dream only apply to cisgender people?

Related: Minnesota Department of Education Introduces Transgender ‘Toolkit’
Capt. Jennifer Peace on being a transgender military service member
Capt. Jennifer Peace on being a transgender military service memberPhoto by YouTube

As a community, this hurts but we’re not completely down for the count. We lost this battle but the war will never be over for the simple reason that we exist, that we are valid. We’ve seen worse times. We saw our indigenous siblings targeted by European settlers and missionaries, we watched as our early medical research was burned in the most famous Nazi book burning, we’ve been forced into hiding by an oppressively cissexist medical gatekeeping industry. But we’ve marched on, slowly but surely finding our voices. Slowly winning legal battles and tiny legislative wins, we acquired legal rights that our people have never had before. Now we face an administration who is committed to systematically rolling back those rights.

We’ve dared to exist openly and, daresay, proudly. Demanding the place in society that has so long eluded our trans ancestors. Now is the time to exercise those voices, to let our government know that they can’t just stamp us out of your lives this time. This time it’s different, we’ve had a tiny, minuscule taste of liberation and now we crave it. The time to go for total trans liberation is upon us, let’s fight.

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