To ban us from the military not only feels like an attack on my humanity, but also an insult to my intelligence.
Today, I woke up from an uncomfortable night’s sleep to the news that President Donald Trump is now banning transgender people from serving in the military. I don’t know what’s more of an insult – being denied humanity and my right to choice, or the fact that he even thought I’d want to serve as a tool in his imperialist machine in the first place. The sentiments I feel about this decision are not cut and dry because there are so many implications – good and bad. Is this fucked up?
Yes, and here is why:
This first thing I think about is all of the transgender Americans currently serving in the military who have been struck with this news. Of the 1,3 million active duty members of the military, 2,450 are transgender, according to a study by the RAND Corporation. What of them? How will they be protected moving forward? What access to resources will they have if they’re ejected? What transitionary systems will be put into place to accommodate for this sudden strip of human rights? How will they be safe from this legalized bigotry that will instigate stigmatization from their peers in the barracks?
I am actively working towards a world without police and prisons, including ending the military industry which has been used and weaponized against Black and Brown people for centuries to dominate and exploit our communities. As a Black trans woman in America, I would in no way want to be a pawn in that game at all–but the fight for trans inclusion in the military hasn’t just been about us fighting “for our country”– it’s more about us being able to have access to resources and choices.
Much like the debate on which bathroom trans people should be able to use, this issue of trans involvement in the military is less about the actual military itself and more about denying us our right to occupy space, make decisions, navigate authentically, and live within our full dignity as human beings.
But the President’s tweets from this morning are also a distraction. They are a distraction from the multiplicity of ways that the system has failed to protect trans people. Especially Black and Brown trans folks.
Yesterday, the Senate tried to repeal the ACA – today they are hosting debates and attempting to pass amendments dismantling important elements of the ACA. Transgender Americans are so intrinsically connected to the medical industrial complex that anything health related is crucial to our survival. To strip a community already deeply marginalized and struggling to survive in this capitalist machine, is ludicrous and cruel. The most crucial thing that we need to be able to thrive and function in society is in jeopardy.
This year alone, over 15 of Black transgender women and femmes have been murdered and the government continually ignores this issue. I think about the thousands of trans folks who are poor and homeless without access to adequate education or job prospects. Those who are not protected in the streets are consistently targeted, harassed, and imprisoned–and now our focus has been once again shifted.
It is my fear is that the white LGBT+ infrastructure will mobilize around repealing this ban and use all resources and tactics to fight that one particular angle whilst ignoring the needs of the most marginalized and how this is connected to larger structures of dehumanization perpetuated by capitalism and white supremacy. How far will this go?
If transgender healthcare is such a burden to a system with a $49.3 billion budget–and will only cost at most $9 million–what will happen to the trans folks currently serving as federal workers in other capacities? What is the state of trans healthcare then? Will this be the beginning of the end of protection for all trans Americans access to gender affirming health services? According to the RAND study mentioned above, trans folks serving in the military has “minimal impact on readiness and health care costs” and any rise in cost represents a 0.04- to 0.13 percent increase in spending for the already serving members.
This rollback from the Obama presidency has very little to do with the military at all–it’s the beginning of a made up conversation discussing the “burden” that transgender Americans will serve to taxpayers and the government and start a long process of continual rollbacks of access to primary and secondary needs for us to even have a semblance of a chance at surviving in the United States.
To ban us from the military not only feels like an attack on my humanity, but also an insult to my intelligence. We must be prepared and ready to see the bigger picture and fight back against THAT.