LGBT Rights in the Military
Trump's Tweets on Transgender Individuals in the Military
There's no doubt that the LGBT community has suffered from a variety of different civil rights abuses. Still, the fact that the Supreme Court had ruled in favor of gay marriage in 2017 represents that how far we've come in accepting these individuals, and treating them as regular human beings. This progress has also been recorded by the Pew Research Center, who, in 2017, had recorded that Americans are becoming increasingly open to the LGBT community, and that the number of people who identify as LGBT is growing. June has been made Pride Month, and there are different Pride celebrations in order to celebrate different sexual orientations and gender identities and promote social harmony.
Even so, in 2017, U.S President Donald Trump had proposed a ban to bar transgender individuals from serving in the military. This episode had sparked outrage in both Democrats and Republicans, and have garnered national attention in regards to how the President is handling the situation.
LGBT and the Military
Although gays were allowed to serve in the military, they weren't allowed to reveal their sexual orientation. They would be discharged from service because of their orientation, and in 1982, the Department of Defense had reinforced a policy that stated that being homosexual was incompatible with being in the military. However, in 1993, former U.S President Bill Clintonsigned a bill stating that individuals in the military under investigation can not be investigated based on sexual orientation alone. This became the famed "Don't ask, don't tell."
As the public grew more welcome towards transgender individuals, so did public policy. In December 2010, Barack Obama had repealed the "Don't Act, Don't Tell," and helped pave a way for gays to join the military. The repeal began on September 20th, 2011. Ever since then, the military had included high-ranking individuals who identified as LGBT. For example, Eric Fanning, who was promoted to Secretary of the Army, identified as openly gay, and happily so. What's more, many gay and transgender soldiers have recalled many stories of when they were accepted and supported by their ranking officers.
Trump's Ban of Transgender Individuals
When Trump first announced the ban against transgender individuals in the military, America, as a whole, didn't take it well.
Although he stated that he didn't want the military to be burdened with additional medical costs, many groups saw this policy to be downright discriminatory, if not a violation of human rights. What's more telling is the fact that the Republican National Convention had moved to support Trump's ban, though major Republicans, such as John McCain, continue to criticize the ban. Many federal judges have filed cases against Trump's ban, and even the American Psychological Association was horrified by how Trump's administration misused scientific data in order to support the ban. Many Pentagon leaders were quick to fight back. And now, even though the ban has been approved, it's a confusing ban that's left many transgender advocates wondering who would be kicked out.
The Trump administration issued a statement on March 23rd, 2018, that the infamous ban would disqualify most transgender individuals from military service. Although it was a shock to many Americans, many of Trump's administration boast blatant LGBT violations, including the Vice President Mike Pence.
What Remains of Freedom
How Trump's Ban Affects Us
If we're going to be honest, America doesn't have the best track record in human rights. Though we claim to stand for freedom, in the end, we have had a blatant history of denying freedom to others, especially individuals who aren't the same as us. Civil rights movements and LGBT individuals have struggled to fight for their rights, even though many others have sought to repress them. Women's rights were just as important, simply because women deserve to be treated not as property or as commodities, but as human beings. The impoverished is often excluded from the middle-class and the rich, simply because of the stereotypes Americans have unjustly labeled them with. Immigrants who came here for sanctuary are now finding themselves getting harassed every day by people who claim that they're terrorists, even though the majority of this country's terrorists are white, male, and incredibly conservative.
So what of transgender individuals?
From the bathroom issue to, according to Newsweek, "almost every transgender employee in the U.S has experienced mistreatment at their job," the fact is that America still has a long way to go if we're going to call ourselves the "land of the free". Trump's policy blatantly undermines that goal at the very least, and at worst, invokes human rights violations and constitutional violations that are reminiscent of actions of a certain madman. And although many say that, "Oh, the policy doesn't affect me" or "I don't know how I feel about it", it does in fact affect you.
There was an old poem written during World War II, in which persecution in Germany was rampant. It stated:
First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Socialist.
Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Trade Unionist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.
The poem was written by Martin Niemöller, and it surrounded the controversial subject matter of many of the German population, and how they persecuted their own citizens because they were different from them. Still, the bystander, who's the narrator of the poem, did little to help these groups, because their plight didn't affect them. And so, when it was finally time for them to be persecuted and discriminated against, no one was left to save them.
It's similar to our situation today. First, it'd be targets like Muslim Americans, or minorities, or transgender individuals, or anyone who doesn't look like a white American. Of course, after that then it'll be lower class Americans and older Americans. Then it'll be those who practice a different religion, then those who don't participate in certain activities, then those who aren't perceived as loyal to America. The standards for discrimination gets lower and lower and lower until finally, only the "idealistic" American population remains.
Trump's ban demonstrates an alarming willingness for many top American officials, all of which are supposed to represent America the best, to disregard our core values of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. While it's one thing for a powerless person to say discriminatory things, a person who is, say, the President of the United States, is a completely different matter. Federal courts are striking back against the President, as is the American Public. However, there are other top politicians that have supported the ban, such as that of the Republican National Convention, as well as the Trump Administration in general. And while there's bipartisan support against the ban, it's clear that Trump will do whatever it takes to spearhead his own agenda.
It's the reason why we have to continue to fight this ban, why we have to continue this fight, why we have to continue to support transgender troops in the military. After all, despite everything that's happened in this country, one thing is for certain; everyone who serves in the military is a hero. They're the ones who scarified their own lives to ensure that America enjoys the freedom it loves. And to repay those people this way is just sickening.
For More Information About the Ban and How You Can Stop It
- Trump's New Transgender Military Ban - The Atlantic
In a directive Friday, the president ordered that people with gender dysphoria will be prevented from serving in most cases. Implementation, however, is uncertain.
- Doe v. Trump | GLAD
Update May 11, 2018 - Transgender military ban plaintiffs in Doe v. Trump, the first lawsuit to challenge the Trump-Pence ban, filed a cross-motion for summary judgment in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. Plaintiffs’ motion asserts t
- Stop Trump’s Ban on Transgender Military Service | American Civil Liberties Union