What message does it send to our armed forces and our country that the Commander in Chief tweeted his decision to stop allowing Transgender individuals to serve in any capacity in our armed forces?
Watching the news crews pulling up to Center on Halsted, it is clear that rather than relying on Tweets, the media outlets understand the depth of what is happening as Trump continues to chip away at our rights.
Center on Halsted has always supported LGBTQ full participation in the U.S. Military. From artwork commemorating those who served to hiring veterans to programmatic work that takes into account the needs of veterans, Center on Halsted affirms that contributions of our community to ensuring the safety and security of this country.
“Legal remedies that right the wrongs in our culture are important. When President Obama led the way in allowing Transgender service members to be out, he sent the message that the White House understood and appreciated the contributions of our Transgender service members,” said Modesto Valle, CEO of Center on Halsted. “Today, President Trump’s tweet made clear that this administration holds no such respect.”
The most qualified people to do various military jobs have included and will continue to include Transgender individuals. While it is an honor and a privilege to serve, Transgender military personnel and those thinking about enlisting have been sent a message that the White House would rather turn them away than maintain the strongest military.
As the Defense Department was getting ready to enact the plan to begin to allow transgender individuals to join the US military, President Trump fell back on using misinformation to justify his administration’s prejudice against the Transgender community, claiming, ‘tremendous medical costs and the disruption that transgender in the military would entail.’
The reverberations of the administration’s actions in rolling back LGBTQ protections could not be clearer when looking at, for instance, their pulling away from protecting the rights of Transgender students to access bathrooms of their choice and the recent Texas court decision forcing Transgender students to use the bathrooms in accordance with their gender assigned at birth.
A 2016 Rand Corp. study estimates anywhere from 2,500 to 7,000 Transgender individuals actively serve in the United States armed forces, which rises to 11,000 when considering those in the reserves. This report clearly indicated that the costs that Trump references would be ‘exceedingly small’ when looking at total health care expenditures. “What we are seeing is the beginning of a coordinated effort to roll back LGBTQ rights across the board,” said Vanessa Sheridan, Director of Transgender Community Engagement at Center on Halsted. “The administration is starting with the part of our community that is the most vulnerable. We are the fewest in number and still do not have the same political influence at gay and lesbian communities.”