I stand with the transgender community in light of the ongoing shameful, self-serving politicisation of their lives and existence, at home and abroad.
The latest example of the ignorant, malicious persecution of transgender people comes directly from the President of the United States, by banning transgender people from serving in the armed forces of the United States, citing health care costs and the ‘disruption’ they allegedly cause.
The President’s announcement comes on top of endless religious, conservative right-wing attempts across the United States at so-called ‘bathroom bills‘ that target the use of toilets by transgender people. These petty, ignorant, spiteful bills are designed solely to make the lives of transgender people as miserable as possible, as they are being pushed without any credible evidence to support proponents’ preposterous allegations that transgender people represent a risk to the community at large.
As the LGBTI community achieves greater public acceptance and legal equality, these bills and actions are deliberately targeted at one of the most vulnerable segment of our community by bigoted, ignorant sections of society desperate to halt progress, and lash out at the LGBTI community in any way they can.
As for Donald Trump’s latest regressive announcement, first, there is no credible evidence whatsoever that having transgender people serve in the armed forces causes any ‘disruption’.
Historically, thousands of transgender people have served with distinction, even a Navy SEAL, and an estimated 15,000 transgender service members continue to serve their country proudly and bravely. Which is more than the current, ‘draft-dodging‘ President can say …
Second, the health care costs of transgender service members, estimated to be between $2.4 and 8.4 million per year, is a minuscule portion of the health care spending of the armed forces of the United States, which is $49.3 billion per year.
The US armed forces spend at least five times as much money on erectile dysfunction and Viagra alone, around $41.6 million per year.
Curiously, senior Pentagon officials appear to have been completely surprised by Donald Trump’s announcement, and they are not alone in their confusion.
To add insult to injury, less than a day after the President’s anti-transgender announcement, the US Department of Justice has filed an amicus brief with the Second Circuit Court of Appeals arguing that the landmark Civil Rights Act of 1964 does not protect ‘homosexuals’ from discrimination in employment.
These actions come on top of a range of anti-LGBTI measures already taken by the new administration over the past few months, including:
- bringing together to most anti-LGBTI US administration in modern history, which openly embraces anti-LGBTI hate groups;
- the White House scrubbing the web page devoted to LGBTI rights on day one;
- removing the proposed sexual orientation and gender identity questions from the upcoming 2020 US census;
- removing questions identifying elderly LGBTI people from two important data collection programs: the National Survey of Older Americans Act Participants and the Annual Program Performance Report for Centers for Independent Living;
- signing into law a bill overturning a Barack Obama executive order that required companies seeking contracts with the federal government to show compliance with federal anti-discrimination laws, which included a barring of discrimination against federal workers specifically on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity;
- rescinding a Department of Education and Department of Justice’s Title IX guidance which reiterated a growing legal consensus on Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, protecting students against discrimination and harassment in US schools on the basis of their gender identity …
… and so on.
Donald Trump’s attack on transgender service members is a reprehensible, self-serving political game, no doubt designed to shore up his political fortunes with the regressive religious right (à la Malcolm Turnbull on marriage equality closer to home), and to distract from his woeful incompetence in office and the troubling investigations into his election.
President Donald J. Trump announced today that the U.S. government will not allow so-called transgender people “to serve in any capacity in the U.S. military.”
“I applaud President Trump for making America safe again,” said Mat Staver, Founder and Chairman of Liberty Counsel. “The military is a lethal weapon designed to protect America and our allies. It is not a social club, a social experimentation petri dish, or ClubMed …
But then, Donald Trump excels at self-serving and reprehensible … unlike the proud and brave transgender members of the armed forces serving their nation.