On the 69th anniversary of military desegregation by President Truman, Donald J. Trump sent shock waves through the nation today when he tweeted the following at 8:55am EST:
“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 transgenders in the military would entail. Thank you”.
As if passing policies over Twitter wasn’t problematic enough, Trump’s habit of exaggeration and failure to present data that supports his Trumped up (pun intended) claims were all the more troubling.
Perhaps the military expert Trump allegedly consulted with should have explained to him that the U.S. Military spends more on erectile dysfunction ($84 million on erectile dysfunction, with $41.6 million on Viagra alone, according to The Military Times) than it does on medical costs associated with trans people serving in the military.
According to a Defense Department commissioned study published in 2016 by the Rand Corp; of the estimated 1,320- 6,630 active Transgender individuals serving– the cost at an extreme estimate would be $2.4-8.4 million out of a nearly total military medical budget of $9 billion. Not every trans person serving in the military is interested in receiving trans related medical care which lowers those numbers further.
Trump’s announcement created a sense of panic around the world. Joshua Block, an attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union sent out a tweet asking trans service members and reservists to contact him. His tweet received over 16,500 retweets within a 12 hour period. ”My inbox is overflowing with messages from trans service members who are serving openly with no problem”, he told Daily Beast. “There’ll be no shortage of people ready to fight if they’re suddenly kicked out because of Trump’s decision to tweet one morning,” Block said.
Several advocacy organizations like OutServe,The National Center For Lesbian Rights and Lambda Legal, have formed a coalition with the ACLU and will be prepared to take legal action.
The Trump Administration is no stranger to legal action, the travel ban being a recent example. Should Trump move forward with a policy that reinforces his tweet, the administration will be inundated with lawsuits at every turn.
Aside from taking legal action against the administration, Stonewall Democratic Club and other groups sent out a press releases demanding that trans service members be permitted to serve and insisted that the military proactively recruit transgender people who are willing and able.
“The Stonewall Democratic Club condemns this regressive mean-spirited policy and pledges to fight to reverse it in any way we can,” said SDC President Lester Aponte. “We urge our community, and all Americans to speak out for our Transgender Citizens who are daily marginalized, brutalized, and rejected.”
The Stonewall Democratic Club (SDC) made additional calls to members of congress urging them to take immediate action toward protecting trans people serving in the military. “We’re banned from bathrooms, we’re banned from professional spaces, and now we’re being banned from the military,” read a statement from the group’s Transgender Affairs committee. The objective of this hateful policy is to ban us from every space within society, until we cease to exist.”
As Transgender Affairs Chair for Stonewall Democratic Club and a transgender activist, I suggest a strategic fight, just as we fought in North Carolina and elsewhere.
If trans people are banned from the military, we should ban the military from campus recruitment, and cease state tax incentives with CA based federal military contractors. Many of us are prepared to take actions that will make the outcome in North Carolina look like a slap on the wrist. Our lives are on the line, and we have more than enough stamina to continue the fight.
We are a resourceful people, and we won’t stop until justice is served with all the fixings and I am certain we have the support to implement effective measures.
Los Angeles county and city officials have proactively advocated for the transgender community which has even resulted in suspension from doing business with states and cities that practice discrimination against LGBTQ people via legislation.
“While the President continues his push to marginalize historically oppressed communities, here in Los Angeles, we are moving forward with our agenda to uplift and create opportunities for the Transgender community, including housing, shelter, and social services,” said Los Angeles Councilmember Mitch O’Farrell. “Unlike Donald Trump, we Angelenos embrace diversity and we don’t believe anyone should live in the shadows because of who they are. Leaders lead with love and compassion, not hate and ignorance.”
According to the Williams Institute more than 150,000 transgender adults have served in the U.S. Armed Forces or are currently on active duty.
One of those service members is Shane Ortega. Ortega is a FTM trans-man who served as a Flight Engineer and Staff Sergeant in the Marines and the Army. Over the last 8 years Ortega has fiercely advocated for protections and medical considerations for trans people serving in the military. Ortega’s mother served, under “Don’t ask don’t tell” as a lesbian woman, and he made it his mission to repeal the discriminatory policy. With support from fellow service members, the repeal was successful.
In an interview for The Los Angeles Blade, Ortega requested the same loyalty bestowed upon the LGBTQ community during the repeal of DADT be extended again toward trans service members battling the ban.
“I hope the commanders and those on the Department of Defense staff refuse to implement any legislation demanded by Trump”, Ortega said. “I hope they use their moral compass and empathy toward their fellow service members. Anyone invested in accomplishing a tactical mission knows that you have to accept the humanity of your troops and use that knowledge to accomplish all objectives.”
The Los Angeles LGBT Center has been meeting the objectives of the LGBTQ community for over 48 years. “Our Transgender brothers and sisters are Americans. They serve our country with honor and distinction, in spite of the very real discrimination they still face. We can and must do better,” said CEO, Lorri L. Jean.
In addition to urging community members within and outside of the LGBTQ community to do better as allies, Jean also disclosed some of the hidden agenda behind Trumps move to ban trans people from serving in the military.
“Sources have revealed that the department of justice — this very day- — may be filing a brief in the federal Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit, arguing that LGBT people are not protected by the Civil Rights Act of 1964,” said Jean. “This President is turning the DOJ which once argued for protections for LGBT people into an institution that seeks to harm and undermine us.”
While the Trump administration has made numerous attempts to discourage the LGBTQ community from thriving, cities like West Hollywood are taking additional strides to show the Transgender community an outpour of support. The city created a social media campaign, #StandwithTransTroops so that Transgender people can see the support from allies all over the world who stand with them in absolute solidarity.
Despite the outcome, the Los Angeles LGBTQ community and its allies are prepared to search for the solution together.