While the fourth of July has many meanings for different people, this year is troubling for a lot of transgender and queer people. Following President Trump’s order to ban transgender people to actively serve in the military, it leaves many of us wondering where our patriotism stands.
Two months ago, the Department of Defense approved a new policy that has barred transgender troops and military recruits from transitioning to the opposite sex, forcing them to serve as their birth gender. As of April 20th, thousands of transgender troops were discharged and no one with gender dysphoria or undergoing sex transition is allowed to enlist in the military.
This is a huge step back as a country, circling back to the “don’t ask, don’t tell policy” when queer soldiers were under attack for their sexual identity. This new policy mentally damages and puts transgender soldiers in danger by forcing them to hide in a body that does not feel like their own. Trump’s idea that sex transitioning is only harmful to the military holds no basis. According to the American Medical Association, “the medical community recognizes gender transition as the standard care for gender dysphoria.” If the cost of sex changes and hormones were the problem, I think we should start with the thousands of dollars spent on Viagra.
On June 19th, the House took one last shot at Trump’s order and blocked the new policy. Lawmakers voted 243-183 to block funding to implement the new policy. While the order is still in effect, this will make it less likely to become law. Nine Republicans joined the majority of Democrats in blocking the amendment which questions whether this is really an obstacle the military is facing or if it is just a part of Trump’s personal anti-LGBTQ+ agenda.
In the midst of trying to ban all transgender people from serving their country, Trump still had comments for the LGBTQ+ community during pride month. Trump tweeted, “As we celebrate LGBT Pride Month and recognize the outstanding contributions LGBT people have made to our great Nation, let us also stand in solidarity with the many LGBT people who live in dozens of countries worldwide that punish, imprison, or even execute individuals.” During the month of June, a month dedicated to the progress and pride of all queer people in the world, Trump managed to pat himself on the back for the progress he has only stripped away from us.
Today, I commend all transgender people who have served a country that has never served them. I commend all transgender people who have the hopes of one day being able to fight for their own rights. The transgender community is braver than the draft dodger that is currently in office will ever be. The fourth of July is meant to celebrate our freedom and independence, but it is hard to celebrate when your community is still not free in 2019.