Last Wednesday, President Trump casually ordered the Pentagon to ban trans service members from the military. By casually, I mean over a string of cold tweets, as has become the norm with the nation’s leader. After grabbing my phone to hit snooze on my alarm, I saw the news alert. I was shocked. It is very difficult for Trump actions to shock me nowadays, but this attack felt like a punch to my stomach. While banning transgender Americans from the military, Trump was also personally saying to me: “you don’t matter to me.”
Burden is a word you use to describe that lazy boyfriend who gives you good sex but makes you carry all the load financially and morally. Burden is a word you use to describe the loss of a close relative; that heavy emotional burden. Burden is a word you use to explain the magnitude of stress you have on your shoulders. Burden is not a word to describe thousands of brave Americans who chose to take a bullet for your freedom. Upon reading the string of non-chalant tweets Trump sent out, I couldn’t help but to cry over how cold and cynical the words felt. If I was feeling the pain from those words, I couldn’t possibly imagine how my trans brothers and sisters were feeling. This attack was carefully disguised merely as a financial tactic, but make no mistake my friends, this was personal.
When Trump sent out his cryptic tweets, he didn’t offer any numbers to support his claim. Thankfully, after digging in the internet, I came across a Defense Department-commissioned study published last year by the Rand Corp. (Rand Corp Study) This study shows carefully-obtained estimates of trans military members’ potential medical costs. According to the study, the typical costs for gender transition-related medical treatment would be between $2.4 million and $8.4 million annually. To put this into perspective, the US military spends about $84 million on erectile dysfunction medicine. Viagra alone amounts to $41.6 million every year, roughly five times the estimated spending on transition-related medical care. The Washington Post has an informative article that backs up these claims and also provides other comparisons (Washington Post Article). The upper estimate for annual transgender medical costs in the military amounts to less than a tenth of the price of a F-35 fighter jet or a thousandth of one percent of the Defense Department’s annual budget. This is hardly a “tremendous” financial issue. This is a person in power marginalizing an entire community and letting them know that under his leadership (or lack there of) they are not valued in the United States.
Whether you are a part of the LGBTQIA+ community or not, you must take offense to this. This is a man with a severe case of cognitive dissonance that might come for you later if you’re not a white, affluent man. We have all seen his stances on women, Latinos, Muslims, LGBTQIA+, disabled individuals, Journalists, and countless other groups. We can’t sit idly by while we wait to see who’s next. Forbidding an entire group of people from serving in the military is not only bigoted, but also downright unpatriotic. Serving in the military shows an outstanding willingness to serve the country and contribute to a common good. Why would you want to prevent people from being a part of that just based on your own prejudices?
We, as a nation, must stand united and resist these attacks. There are many things you can do other than reposting dank Trump memes (you must continue doing that too!). Calling your representatives is a fundamental act that is not used enough. An amazingly helpful source towards this is the 5Calls website (Link). Once you visit the site, find the issue you’re concerned about and it will give you the name and number of the state senator you should call. Another way to help is to find a protest to go to. After going to a #notmypresident rally many people denounced my act as unnecessary, unimpactful, and just minimized it as a millennial tantrum. But no matter what denouncers say, you must keep turning your rage into action. Show people that you are mad, you are educated, you are peacefully protesting, and you won’t stay quiet! Donating to causes fighting the ban is a great way to go. Organizations like the ACLU (Link), the National Center For Transgender Equality (Link), and the Human Rights Campaign (Link) are all in need of volunteers and resources. But the most important thing you can do to resist is to speak up. Right now it is important to be as loud as possible. Be loud around your family and friends, be loud on social media, stand up for bigotry and hate on your everyday life.
To all my transgender brothers and sisters:
I’m sorry this administration deems your character and bravery unfit to serve this nation. You are not burdens, you are examples of great courage and determination. You are a force that drives me everyday to be my most authentic self and I bow to help out as much as I can. Even if it’s just with my voice, I won’t let anybody step on your contributions. With our unity and support, soon they will realize that they messed with the wrong community!