Around 9am today, Donald Trump issued a series of 3 tweets that read: “…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“.
I’m furious. I’m disgusted. And I’m so, so sad.
I can barely organize my thoughts on this. There are so many things wrong with his statement.
I tried to do substantial research to support my claims here. Please let me know if any of this information is incorrect.
Firstly, let’s talk about these “tremendous medical costs and disruptions” that trans people would cause. I don’t think enough people realize that not all trans people transition. I know that the concept of a woman with a penis and a deeper voice is hard for some people understand, but honestly, why do they care? The idea that trans people aren’t who they say they are until they have the “correct” genitalia is transphobic, and it’s wrong. So this really only even applies to people who do transition. From what I’ve read, hormone therapy seems to cost anywhere between $1,500 and $2,500 per person, per year, but I found a lot of different numbers so I can’t say for certain. More complication surgeries, such as facial reconstruction and “gender reassignment surgery” (which is NOT an accurate name for this procedure, because the person already identifies as the gender to which they are being “reassigned”. But I digress), cost a whole lot more (like, in the ballpark of $30,000-$60,000). From the research I’ve done on TRICARE’s website (the health insurance provider for military service members and families), most of these drugs are covered by health insurance only in certain cases. It ONLY covers drugs that are deemed medically necessary. Thus, I can’t assume that the military would cover drugs for hormone therapy in cases of transgender individuals. (Edit: I’ve been reading through Chelsea Manning’s case, but it seems to be an anomaly. Most people don’t get that kind of treatment.) If this is the case, then they definitely wouldn’t cover any of the more expensive surgical procedures. To my understanding, the only thing they might need to cover would be therapy, because there are a lot of mental health issues that arise from being assigned the wrong gender at birth (read: a lot of trans people suffer from mental illness due to societal pressure, bigotry, and people being assholes). Following my logic, other than rectifying personal damage to mental health caused by society, being trans in the military doesn’t cost a damn thing. As for these “disruptions”, what the hell? What disruptions? The only disruptions caused by trans people are actually not even caused by trans people – they are caused by other people who think they know better about someone else’s gender. The LGBT+ community isn’t fragile. We’re not “special snowflakes” who can’t exist outside of safe spaces. Especially not trans people, who suffer more violence and bigotry than anyone else under the acronym. It’s other, intolerant people who have a problem.
Secondly, Trump seems to think that the “issues” caused by trans people would distract from the real goal of the military: “decisive and overwhelming victory”. Really? Is that what we are? A killing machine? Honestly, I’m pretty anti-military. I don’t believe in violence unless it is absolutely necessary. And I guess it depends on your definition of “necessary”, in the same way insurance companies can deem certain procedures (*cough hormone replacement therapy for trans people cough*) medically UNnecessary. But nonetheless, I believe that our country already spends way too much money on our military and should allocate those resources to things like education or conservation. You know, things that actually have a shot at Making America Great Again. Also, regarding the idea that trans people would distract from the real goal of
total world domination a Great American Victory, there are a LOT of different kinds of medical issues that people have. In 2011, about 10% of military spending went towards healthcare for current members and veterans. That’s because war f*cks people up! It just does! I can’t imagine how messed up I’d be if I spend several years of my life in constant fear of being exploded. And to decrease military spending, instead of looking at approaches that don’t involve killing civilians, people want to decrease military healthcare! How can anyone put a “respect our troops” bumper sticker on the back of their 10mpg pick-up truck (right between the stickers that read “Jesus supports the NRA” and “Live Laugh Love”) if they don’t want their soldiers to have the best damn healthcare in the country?
Finally, there is the main issue: banning a subset of the population from the military based on bigoted discrimination. In 1948, Truman passed Executive Order 9981: Desegregation of the US Military. He stated, “It is hereby declared to be the policy of the President that there shall be equality of treatment and opportunity for all persons in the armed services with regards to race, color, religion or national origin.” In 2011, Obama finally repealed “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”, allowing gay men and women to openly serve in the military without hiding their sexuality for fear of being discharged. However, there has never been any piece of legislation specifically prohibiting or the discrimination in the military of individuals based on gender identity of expression. But now, trans people are explicitly banned. We don’t what this means for those currently serving in the military, but it definitely applies to new recruits. And this is what really gets me. It’s not about military spending, or “distractions” from winning a war: it’s about bigotry and hatred for a subset of Trump’s fellow Americans. Whether he likes it or not, Trump is their president, and today, he failed them.
I understand that I will never experience the same kind of hatred, violence, and fear that trans people do, especially trans people of color. I will never be discriminated against because of my gender identity or expression. Nobody is ever going to spit on me for wearing a suit instead of a dress, or throw slurs in my direction for cutting off my hair and binding my chest. No stranger will ever think they have the right to ask me about my vagina unless that stranger is my gynecologist and I am consenting to a medical exam. I know this. But I also believe with my whole heart that a loss for trans people is a loss for the entire LGBT+ community, and that a loss for some Americans is a loss for all Americans. And that’s why today, I mourn.