President Trump’s Transgender Military Ban Is an Affront to the Core Tenets of the US Military

This morning, on the 69th anniversary of President Harry Truman desegregating the military, President Donald Trump announced via a series of three tweets that the United States will no longer allow transgender Americans to serve in the military.

As a reconnaissance platoon leader in the 82nd Airborne and executive officer in Army Special Operations Command (USASOC) who has deployed to Afghanistan, I can say with confidence that this reversal of policy is not only cruel and immoral — it’s also a violation of American values with no basis in facts.

One of the core aspects of the military is its openness to those who want to serve in something greater than themselves. It is a path offered to those wishing, and
willing, to act on their patriotism. To discourage or bar those who meet the physical and academic standards from having that choice is imprudent.

History has proven time and time again that restrictions against certain groups joining the military, such as African-Americans or Japanese-Americans, are self-defeating. The results of lifting these arbitrary restrictions have always been the same. The reasons given for the restrictions never came to fruition, were based on fear and prejudice, and the military was ultimately stronger based on a swell of new applicants and diversity in its ranks.

I served in the military while “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” (DADT) was still the law of the land. The effects were brutal. Because the Army institutionally discriminated against gay, lesbian, and bisexual Americans, a message was sent that homophobia and biphobia were acceptable. Young soldiers coming in were exposed to this, and internalized oppression was validated and perpetuated. And who could blame them as they looked up to leadership and the governing rules to learn how to properly conduct themselves. Repealing DADT started to erode that phenomenon, helping to create an atmosphere of acceptance for gay, lesbian, and bisexual service members in the military.

Another reason to reject Trump’s transgender military ban is that it is antithetical to the core tenets of the military’s esprit de corps.

In my unit in the 82nd Airborne, the brigade and troop commander were both Black, as many as a quarter of the enlisted soldiers were Latino, and the general population of my troop was ethnically and religiously diverse.

I actually had to sit and think long and hard to remember the racial, ethnic, and religious makeup of my brigade. That’s because when the pressure is on, you don’t care about the race, religion, sexual orientation, or gender identity of the soldier next to you. That’s one aspect I loved deeply about the military. That is what makes the military strong. Banning a group from joining it damages that dynamic.

According to a White House official, Trump’s ban on transgender Americans serving in the military is a political ploy to help Republicans win seats in Congress. But transgender people are not political puppets whose lives are to be played with. (Full disclosure: my brother, Chase, is trans and a lawyer with the ACLU.) This ban affects real people. Over 15,000 transgender Americans currently serve in the military.

But now, their livelihoods are at stake. And young Americans who want to bravely serve their country are being told that they aren’t deserving of that right simply because of who they are — people like my brother. This only contributes to the existing stigma that drives
nearly half of transgender youth to attempt suicide.

This is not about politics. This is not about military readiness or cost. This is a calculated decision to discriminate against an already vulnerable group of people, one that will have devastating effects for countless Americans.

As a veteran, as a human being, as the uncle to my transgender brother’s child, I won’t accept this. We can do better. I learned as much through my service.

Add a comment (62)
Read the Terms of Use

Anonymous

I served in the military before DADT was rescinded and a lot of lesbians would tell me they were gay. I'm not really sure why as they didn't ask me out but I never outed them. Anyway, they didn't really complain about DADT and many of them didn't come out even after it was rescinded because why? I didn't share my personal life with everyone either because why? Everyone doesn't have to know everything about you.

Lana Poirier

Isn't it kinda crazy how many comments on this are anonymous? If your gunna talk shit about a service member who fought and gave up years of selfless service to the country. How about you put your name behind it or don't say anything at all.

Anonymous

I have nothing against transgender people at all.... I feel it's your right to live the way you want to. I do feel tho.. the more we open doors to accept all the people in certain positions then more types of groups are going to come forward and demand rights. For example I'm over the age of 35... and would like to join the military. But due to my age I'm disqualified.. how is that fair? That's no different to me then being gay, lesbian, transgender.. etc... I'm being discriminated against because of my age? Lots to think about

Shelly Haner

Apples and oranges. I am over 45 and have no expectations of getting back in the Air Force. That's not ageism. I don't know if you've served but I have. The military is very physically and mentally demanding. It is a job for the young.

Denying transgender people the right to serve IS abject discrimination because outside any mental or physical illness or injuries, they too are able and willing to serve. So why can't they? Because of intolerant and ignorant bigots like Trump and the Evangelical church?

Just like Proposition 8 in California in 2008, a specific right that had been put into legislation was taken out. California's ruling on same-sex marriage was overturned by a voter ballot. The Mormon church, Baptist and Evangelical churches all got together and created Prop 8. They targeted a specific demographic they knew would vote in their favor an manipulated then Candidate Obama's speeches to make him sound like he was anti marriage equality. In 2011 Prop 8 wa overturned by the California Supreme Court as unconstitutional.

So your argument has no bite. It's absolutely unethical to award human beings the essential rights that human beings deserve, and then bigots come along and upend those hard fought rights because they find them "offensive and disagreeable". Your argument is nothing more than a paper tiger.

We in the LGBT community are just getting so fed up with this. We are human beings with a conscience and we will not be pushed around by the Religious Reich anymore! We are not going away.

Jarredk

You are no more discriminated by your age than anyone else. Keep in mind, once a transgender individual reaches the ripe age of 36, they too won't be allowed to serve, even were their transgender status unkown, but now perfectly able bodied people won't be able to serve even when age appropriate.

Anonymous

Hello, My name is Elina, am from Ohio. I was diagnosed with HIV for close to 8 years, Dr Oboh Daniel of (drobohdaniel@gmail.com) cured me with natural herbal medicine. All i did was to order for the herbs for HIV, he sent it to me and ask me to drink it for a period of four weeks, but before the completion of the 4th week all the HIV symptoms disappeared, when i went for checkup, i became NEGATIVE. I've done close to 5 HIV test already, they all turned out to be NEGATIVE. He can also provide herbs for all kind of illness including asthma, cancer, Diabetic 1&2, Gonorrhea, Barrenness, Impotence, , High Blood Pressure,Epilepsy, Herpes, Chronic diseases of the heart, Malignant tumors,Diarrhea,Arthritis, etc. you can contact him via: drobohdaniel@gmail.com or whatsapp him on +2347035127032.......Goodluck

Anonymous

Why are you advertising here? This is a human rights site. Not a place to dump your ad space!

Shelly Haner

This is absolutely deplorable.
No able bodied American should be denied the privilege of serving in out Armed forces when we feel the call of duty. Just when we thought we were past one stage of ignorance, something new and more stupid happens. I empathize with the 15,000 transgender service members. Their lives have been derailed for ignorance. I believe that they should refuse to leave. And this is a stupid move. Many of those are in missions that require indepth training and deep classification. Arbitrarily removing members without debriefing will jeopardize missions, create problems due to mass troop rotations, units will have to retrain and replace the people taken out. Those in hot zones will have to be bivouacked out which places all involved in danger. Trump's stupid blunder WILL cause American service members to be injured or killed because he just created another logistics mess like his stupid Muslim ban. I hope nobody gets killed or the enemy doesn't take advantage of this.

I too had my military career taken from me for being lesbian. My story is below.

I am also a veteran of the Air Force. My job was the best as a military photographer. I had access and opportunities to so many things. I loved my job. But I served before Don't Ask Don't Tell. I struggled to hide being lesbian throughout my 4 year term. I even entered a loveless marriage to hide it that became violently abusive. I had to escape the marriage. I only acted on my sexuality once in the Air Force with a member of my unit. Sadly two months before my term ended in Jan 91, she outed me although I didn't know she did it then. I was the recipient of the Good Conduct Medal, Expert Marksman, Top of my NCO Prep class. I was awarded the Airman of The Year, Airman of The Quarter twice and I served in the Honor Guard Detail and Funerary Colors. My service record was impeccable. Yet once I was discovered, I was denied reenlistment, stripped of the highest security clearances, I was taken out of the field as a professional photographer and shoved in an administrative job until my last couple months were up. My commander recommended that I didn't receive my honorable discharge and I had to fight for it based on my service record. They never even knew that I "fraternized with a member of the same sex" either. For her to tell them would be to report herself. Even so, just the very suspicion of being a homosexual was grounds for my denial for reenlistment. The Air Force was all I ever wanted to do while growing up. And use the opportunity to go to college. I was going to be "a lifer". My life was totally derailed. I went back to my podunk Michigan townb back to my crappy job in retail when before I was flying in mid air refuelers and doing recon photography, etc. I spent the next two years in a drug and alcohol daze of feeling worthless. But I stopped that and then found political activism in animal rights, environmental protection, women's rights, reproductive rights and LGBT rights. I had to take my dignity back.

Thank you for the opportunity to tell my story and thank you for all your hard work on behalf of human rights causes. I wish you well.
Sincerely, Shelly.

Anonymous

First off, I am sorry for your hardship. second your overreaching... 15000 troops is a drop in the bucket

Anonymous

"Able bodied" is what this hinges on. The military doesn't usually take new recruits who come in saying they are going to need one going medical treatment for anything and possibly surgery. I left the military for a year and tried to enlist but was denied because during that year I was diagnosed with chronic migraines and that was condition was causing a lot of trouble in Iraq at the time - that's pretty mild but that's the regulation. Transgenders have the option of enlisting without saying they are transgender and waiting to transition if they want to which is an option not open to diabetics or epileptics but if they are looking to transition they are in the same category as others who have a pre-existing condition. As for the rest of it, service members are medically chaptered if they are going to be non-deployable for a good length of time which is somewhat dependent on the military so that puts transgenders on par with everyone else.

Pages

Stay Informed