When someone is physically able and passionate enough to enlist to serve their country in the military, nothing should stand in their way — especially not a social construct like gender.
About 1.4 million people identify as transgender in America, according to the Williams Institute, a think tank at the University of California, Los Angeles School of Law. And 8,980 transgender people are currently serving in the military, BBC reported last month.
But President Donald Trump wants the number of transgender people in our armed forces to be zero.
On Jan. 22, the Supreme Court voted to lift injunctions blocking President Donald Trump’s ban of transgender military members, making a more clear path for it to go into effect. Based on his track record and blatant anti-LGBTQ opinions of Vice President Mike Pence, it’s difficult for me to believe this decision is anything other than pure discrimination.
If a person is willing and able to serve their country in the military, they should be able to, regardless of what’s on their birth certificate and the hormones they may or may not take. Trump’s reasoning for banning the troops is that their medical treatments cost the military too much. But I see right through that.
“Trump targets marginalized groups because he needs to display his power over them, and as the trans community becomes more visible, the more backlash we are likely to face,” said Gared Harbison, a senior criminal justice major and president of Students for Trans Awareness and Rights. “[Trump and his administration] hate us because it’s easy to hate something you don’t understand and only hear about on TV. Until someone personally knows a trans person, the issue isn’t personal to them.”
Trump got straight to work when he first got into office by removing the LGBTQ-rights page from the White House website and repealing the federal guidelines put in place by the Obama administration that interpreted Title IX as inclusive of trans rights.
And now, an injunction in district courts in Maryland and Washington, D.C. are all that stand in the way of a ban on transgender men and women serving our country.
Trump has not kept his bigotry a secret, and the transgender community is no stranger to discriminatory rhetoric and legislation. It’s all part of a larger issue in our country.
Many states have laws that deny transgender people access to full health care benefits. Some states have laws that identify gender-affirming surgery as “cosmetic,” so insurance won’t cover costs.
James Baker, a freshman public health major and community representative of STAR, said in high school, he didn’t go to the bathroom at school.
People would stare at him in the bathroom, and Baker said he would be thinking, “I literally just have to pee. Leave me alone.”
And prohibiting an entire group of people from joining the military is only going to promote negative attitudes toward them and make life even harder for students like Baker. It will regress the progress our country has made for the transgender community and push them further from having the rights they deserve.
Society has a misguided fear that transgender people are predators or in the business of tricking people. I don’t know where people get the idea that anybody would come out to the world as transgender — changing their name and wardrobe, going through years of transitioning — simply to do something perverted or inappropriate in a bathroom.
The only agenda of the transgender community is to gain the freedom to be themselves, to be able to safely use the bathroom that fits their gender and to have all the rights and liberties they deserve as human beings.
If the military can spend about $84 million annually on Viagra, an erectile dysfunction medication, I think they can handle health care for trans people.