Belen Sassone/ Contributing Writer
In yet another attempt to attack a marginalized community, President Donald Trump has announced that transgender Americans will no longer be allowed to serve in the U.S. military. Not only is this very disrespectful towards the transgender people who have served our country, but it’s a step back in our fight towards equality.
Although horrid, this announcement isn’t surprising considering the evil nature of this president. He decided to reveal the news, not through an official White House statement, but through a series of tweets in the early hours of Wednesday, July 26.
In his tweets, Trump claimed that the decision had been thoroughly discussed with military officials, and that the cost transgender soldiers bring the military was the reason for the ban.
“The military cannot be burdened with the tremendous medical costs and disruption that transgender in the military would entail,” he tweeted.
This rash decision isn’t only highly offensive to the transgender men and women who have sacrificed their lives for the safety of the U.S., but the reasons for the ban hold no factual weight. This probably explains why Trump didn’t include a single number in his tweets.
When these tweets came out, CNN immediately published an infographic detailing a study done by the RAND corporation which estimated that, “the cost to provide transgender-related services to active military personnel would amount to 0.004-0.017% of the Defense Department’s total health care spending.”
If the numbers are so low, then it should be clear to anyone with common sense that Trump is using high cost as a way to hide his bigotry. During his campaign, he promised to protect and support the LGBTQ+ community. However, he seems to have forgotten this seeing as he hasn’t done a single thing as president to help anyone other than himself and his family. Instead, he is using his power to have people living in fear and feeling helpless.
However, this outright attack on transgender people will not be swept under the rug. From the moment that tweet was posted, millions of people began expressing their outrage. If there’s one good thing that has come out of a Trump presidency, it’s the fact that people are now voicing their opinions more than ever, and they are doing it passionately.
Here in Miami, the LGBTQ+ advocacy group, SAVE, organized a protest against the ban at the Torch of Friendship.
In a message informing people of the protest, they wrote, “the U.S. military is the largest employer of transgender people in the world, employing an estimated 15,000 transgender people today” and emphasized that “there’s no place for discrimination in the military.”
In an email, Campaign Manager Bren Pantilione, who has worked tirelessly to protect the rights of the LGBTQ+ community, wrote: “Our military service members deserve more respect than being dismissed in tweet and we will fight against this vicious attack on dignity and equality. Transgender people are our friends, neighbors, and coworkers. They are veterans who have served with honor, and active duty service members who have sacrificed to protect our freedoms. When it comes to being able to serve their country, earn a living, having a place to live, or being served by a business, we should be treated like anyone else and not be discriminated against. Any American who wants to and is able to serve our country should have the opportunity to do so—and should be treated as the patriots they are.”
Across the country, similar protests were held to show President Trump that banning people from serving in the military is unacceptable. ABCNews reported that protests in New York City, Washington D.C. and San Francisco “came just two hours after Trump announced the ban on Twitter.”
Although Trump hasn’t spoken out on the issue again, there’s still hope that the ban will not happen at all. The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Joseph F. Dunford Jr., released a letter on Thursday stating that the policy change will not become effective until new rules are sent to the Defense Department and guidelines are put in place.
As usual, it seems as though Trump may have spoken too soon.
However, if the ban does indeed go into place, it would be an enormous step back in the fight towards equality, as well as a disrespect to the millions of transgender Americans who served in the military over the years. Not allowing them to do so not only makes the current generation feel as though they are not good enough to serve our country, but it discredits those transgender individuals who risked their lives and even died.
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Photo taken from Flickr.