It’s not transgender people who are unfit to serve. It’s the majority of the GOP & the upper echelons of the Pentagon.

Thoughts from a Nonbinary Transgender Rape Survivor In Trumpland

(Swinnen, 2017)

Seeing this fresh new trash all over the internet this morning was not surprising at all , to me — why on Earth would the orange man, who won’t advocate for transgender people’s existence in society, want us anywhere near a government institution? Why would the GOP suddenly give a damn about the civil rights of minorities? Why would someone pick Pence, the legendary anti-LGBTQ bigot, as their running mate, and then extend any courtesy to LGBTQIA+ people?

And yet, there are people who thought that somehow, transgender people may actually be allowed to serve their country (and be accorded the related benefits) under the Trump administration; there are people who believed Trump’s campaign promises and praised the idea of transgender inclusion in the military as a potential step forward. Yet, as a transgender person, I can’t help but disagree with such a simplistic view of minority military inclusion— in my view, to be able to serve would be a mixed blessing, at best. Here’s why:

  1. Military service health benefits do not explicitly guarantee gender-affirmative, client-directed, culturally competent healthcare for transgender employees. While this piece in 2016 stated that “military medical facilities will provide hormone treatment, counseling and sex-change surgery when deemed “medically necessary.””, that is entirely too easily twisted into denial of care (here is another link to relevant reading on this), and does not include regulations that require doctors to be knowledgeable and sensitive to transgender issues.
  2. While this would have been a step forward in representation and workplace inclusion, it would have meant nothing without federal anti-discrimination legislation regarding public accommodations (e.g. bathrooms, locker rooms, barracks).
  3. Militia in general, but especially the U.S. military forces, have a long history of sexism, ableism, rape culture, racism, and other discriminatory/problematic behavior. Is it even safe for transgender people to serve in noncombat capacity, given all of this?
  4. Until our veterans are treated well and given good benefits to compensate for the trauma of war, enlisting is unthinkable for many of us — both transgender and cisgender.
  5. The model minority myth is a myth, and proving our worth in order to be protected as human beings should not be necessary. Serving in the military will not necessarily give us civil rights — just ask every non-white veteran from WWII.

All this being said, my objections are not to the idea of allowing transgender people to serve openly in the armed forces, so much as to the current state of the U.S. Military and Government. Trump’s ban is based on lies and only serves to portray us as “less-than” and “other” to cisgender people, and so, I stand with Center on Halsted (and many other human rights organizations) in denouncing it. However, I cannot help but worry that many people are looking at this complex issue without nuance and intersectional focus. I am a nonbinary transgender, AFAB* rape survivor with PTSD. The U.S. government does not allow me to mark my gender appropriately on my driver’s license, or my passport; the Pentagon is likely not a safe place for me, and due to my medical conditions, I am not considered suitable for most military posts. Due to my gender identity and my uterus, I am not considered suitable for most leadership positions. I won’t die for a country that thinks I am not a person, or even worse, thinks that I am indeed a person, but healthcare and nondiscrimination protections and financial security and bodily autonomy are privileges rather than basic human rights.

I support our soldiers and veterans (when they are not sexual predators or otherwise ethically unsound), and I applaud their sacrifices — but I see the GOP members lashing out at Trump over this ban, and I have to ask: Where were you for reproductive rights bills? Where were you for the Equality Act? Where were you for minimum wage, “grab 'em by the pussy”, the Stanford Rape Case, or for the fight for the ACA? You cannot have it both ways — either we are fit to serve and be given civil rights, or we are not human. Thanks for nothing, and good night.


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*Assigned Female At Birth

7/27/17, 2:35pm Addendum

As noted in the ThinkProgress article that I tweeted, Trump’s tweets do not constitute any actual policy change regarding this issue. My thoughts on the issue remain the same, but I wanted to clarify things for the sake of avoiding misinformation and/or causation of undue panic.

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