On Tuesday, Jan. 22, the Supreme Court upheld the Trump administration's ban on transgender individuals serving in the military. While this ban comes with a set of legal jargon and technicalities, don’t let that fool you. Hidden — or not so hidden — transphobia is what guides this policy.
Under these new guidelines, a trans person must have no desire for hormones or surgery, and can’t have gender dysphoria. They also must serve as their birth sex.
Essentially, trans people can technically serve, but only if they pretend like they’re cisgender. Asking someone to deny part of his or her identity or be barred from the military is a non-choice.
This ban is incredibly regressive and is based on extremely flawed statements made by President Trump.
On July 26, 2017, Trump posted a series of tweets, saying, “After consultation with my Generals and military experts, please be advised that the United States Government will not accept or allow Transgender individuals to serve in any capacity in the U.S. Military. Our military must be focused on decisive and overwhelming victory and cannot be burdened with the tremendous medical costs and disruption that transgender in the military would entail. Thank you.”
These tweets need to be broken down and addressed in parts.
The policy was meant to ban all trans people from service in the military “in any capacity.” This ban seems to be entirely a desire to discriminate against a group of people who already have the odds stacked against them.
The next part of Trump’s tweet addresses the effectiveness of the military should trans individuals be allowed to serve. He insinuates that trans members of the military make it weaker.
That’s a very interesting sentiment, considering trans people have been legally and openly serving in the army since June 2016, and the U.S. has since kept its position as the strongest military in the world. Even Trump himself has called the military great. The U.S. military has a history of being outrageously strong, and the inclusion of trans people never changed that.
This brings us to the controversial topic of the cost of gender confirmation surgery. As a Trump supporter on Twitter so elegantly puts it, “The military cannot become the go to place for free gender reassignment surgery.” This argument immediately collapses under scrutiny.
In high schools around the country, recruiters come and tell groups of often low-income students about how the military is their only option for affording college. The military actively promotes itself as a place to get very expensive services paid for. To actively seek out desperate students but turn away trans people who may or may not want a comparatively cheap surgery is the peak of hypocrisy.
When looking at the numbers, the military has a yearly budget of $598.5 billion. The yearly cost for trans service members’ confirmation surgeries is $2.4-8.4 million. The military is not short on money to spend on its members.
With all of this in mind, the argument in Trump’s tweet has entirely fallen apart. At its center is just blatant transphobia. There is no rational, strategic or budgetary reason to ban trans people. It is only fearmongering and ostracization.
The acceptance of oppressed groups in the military often reflects their acceptance in society. It sets a standard, and when a ban such as this comes into effect, it lowers that standard. If I sound angry, it’s because I am. The American people should be, too.
This ban is already causing a new slew of debates about the basic human rights of trans people. We cannot allow this to happen. A policy founded in such bigotry must be pushed against with full force and fought at every turn. We owe it to our trans compatriots to help secure their rights.
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