Disclaimer: this article is written by a cis-gender woman who has never been a victim of transphobia or of oppression due to her sexual and gender identity. Nonetheless, this cis-gender woman feels that it is necessary to share more information about this topic and hopes that one day individuals who identify as transgender and/or transsexual get to share their voices on this platform.
On Wednesday July 26, US President Donald Trump tweeted (wow, surprise!) his plan to reinstate the ban on transgender people in the US military. This tweet, as with everything that Trump does, was met with countless backlash from celebrities, veterans, and everyday people alike.
Trump’s tweet said the following:
“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”
But Trump tweeted this before having a solid plan, bill, or project to back up his words. Somebody, please tell the man that his ideas do not turn into laws when he tweets them!
Some of the most notorious criticisms of Trump’s announcement include Kristin Beck, a transgender Navy SEAL Team 6 hero. Kristin Beck offered Trump to “meet face to face and [to] tell me I’m not worthy” and that “transgender doesn’t matter. Do your service.”
Beck went on to say that, essentially, the money would not be an issue to the military budget because they care more about their arsenal than they do about their people. The excuse of money is a disguise for what is really going on with Trump’s plan to ban transgender individuals from the military: it is an action towards bigotry and a move to take steps back in the process of becoming more accepting towards communities that have been victims of hatred, violence, and murder in the past. Additionally, it is necessary to point out that there is little to no effect on the military budget of countries that allow transgender individuals to serve in the military.
In light of Trump’s announcement, the CBC made a list of countries that allow transgender individuals to openly serve in the military. This list includes the following countries: Australia, Austria, Belgium, Bolivia, Canada, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Israel, The Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Spain, Sweden and the United Kingdom.
Late night show hosts have gradually acquired a habit of having a section in their shows that rightly criticizes Trump’s actions of the day or week, and they did so with Wednesday’s news. The Guardian compiled videos and quotes from the response of late-night show hosts to Trump’s tweet.
Stephen Colbert described Trump as going “from crazy to cruel” with this intentions. Trevor Noah criticized Trump by saying that with him “you don’t need a morning coffee. A little bit of him wakes you right up. And too much makes you shit yourself.” Samantha Bee commented that “we don’t make bullshit discriminatory laws on Twitter.”
More importantly, the military announced that there will not be a ban on transgender people just because Trump tweeted about it. According to Reuters, Joint Chiefs of Staff Chair Joseph Dunford assured that the military personnel will continue to be treated with respect.
This backlash from the wider public suggests three things:
- That Donald Trump, as always, is trying to reject basic human rights from people who have fought long and hard to be considered human in the face of society at large.
- That social norms and mores are changing in regard to the transgender community. The support for transgender soldiers suggests that this identity is gradually becoming more accepted in a heteronormative North American society.
- Trump’s excuse of not having enough military budget to cover the medical expenses of transgender personnel relates to the general issue of the healthcare system in the United States. Once again, the healthcare system in the United States and its military does not treat the physical and mental well-being of Americans as a basic human right.
The supportive responses to Trump’s tweet can socially advance the rights of the trans community, but it is necessary to remember that this community needs clearly written and effectively enforced laws to secure their safety regardless of which country they live in. Trans rights, just as LGBT rights, women’s rights, and POC rights, are human rights and they need proper recognition in international and national institutions.
And now, we need to see if Trump will follow-up to his Twitter announcement with actual policy or if it is all just empty words. Let’s hope that it is just empty words.