President Donald Trump has again proven to be no friend to the LGBT community. In a series of tweets Wednesday morning, he makes clear that transgender individuals cannot serve their country in any capacity.
According to your president:
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 transgender in the military would entail. Thank you.
Last June, the Pentagon ended the ban of transgender people being able to serve openly in the U.S. military. Under then-President Barack Obama, this was part of the increasing progress of the inclusion of gays, lesbians, and bisexual service members. Certainly everything was not perfect and much was to be desired about military service – because the focus was more on inclusion and visibility than safety – but it was a conversation worth happening.
Make no mistake: part of me wants to be thankful that transgender people won’t have to participate in a military that frequently and violently intervenes in conflicts started by us exporting supposed democratic values abroad. But, if a transgender person wants to openly serve in the U.S. military, they should be able to do such. And though Trump has yet to reveal the nature of the conversation with said Generals and military experts, we all know the reason for the ban is rooted in transphobia.
What’s more, it’s also not immediately clear how Trump intends to carry out the ban he announced via tweet. Transgender people already serve in the military. Trump mentions the high medical costs but fails to mention the amount we pay for war generally. In fiscal year 2015, military spending was projected to account for 54 percent of all federal discretionary spending, a total of $598.5 billion. That amount speaks for itself, especially considering a Republican-driven Congress that wants to rid itself of the Affordable Care Act and replace it with Trumpcare.
The intersections of race and gender are reasons hate crimes have increased since Trump’s election – and that must be placed in context with what happened today. Racists and transphobes alike are inspired by Trump’s statements and actions. Over the past few months, we have already witnessed an uptick in violence among transgender women of color, especially Black transgender women.
Just this week, Dwayna Hickerson was sentenced to 40 years for murdering Dee Whigham, a Mississippi transgender woman. She was stabbed over 100 times. Recently, Le’Ray Barrin, a 17-year-old transgender person, became the fourteenth reported transgender person to be killed this year. Although neither Dee nor Le’Ray served in the military, the violence against transgender people is larger than access to military service. Rather, it’s about systems of failed policies being used to determine what is best with bodies and grants little access to personal decision-making. It’s also about transgender people being treated as second-class citizens when they are deserving of equitable access.
Pride month 2016, Trump tweeted, “Thank you to the LGBT community! I will fight for you while Hillary brings in more people that will threaten your freedom and beliefs.” If this is Trump’s version of fighting for the LGBT community’s beliefs, he can keep it. While we know Secretary Hillary Clinton wasn’t our slam-dunk pick, we know for sure we wouldn’t be grasping for air every five seconds wondering when our marginalized community would be next.
As long as Trump keeps making decisions like this – ones based on ignorance, previously failed policies, and violence – we will continue to say “not my president” and “fuck Trump” every single time. And maybe next time, Caitlyn Jenner can use her superpowers of being the LGBT whisperer to the Grand Ol’ Party for good.
Preston Mitchum is a Washington, DC-based writer, activist, and policy nerd. He is a regular contributor with theGrio and The Root and has written for the Atlantic, Slate, Think Progress, OUT Magazine, Ebony.com, and Huffington Post. Follow him on Twitter here to see just how much he appreciates intersectionality.