Trump’s not-so-surprising current assault on trans people has the heavy thump print of Vice President Pence who, in his first congressional campaign in 2000, argued for public funding of so-called conversion therapy for LGBTQ people. On his website at the time, his disdain for same-sex attractions and sexuality stands out:
Congress should support the reauthorization of the Ryan White Care Act only after completion of an audit to ensure that federal dollars were no longer being given to organizations that celebrate and encourage the types of behaviors that facilitate the spreading of the HIV virus. Resources should be directed toward those institutions which provide assistance to those seeking to change their sexual behavior.”
Pence opposes marriage equality and LGBTQ non-discrimination protections, and helped to pass the so-called Religious Freedom Restoration law allowing businesses to discriminate against LGBTQ people. The state was forced to amend the law after experiencing serious political push back.
Donald Trump, by choosing Mike Pence, has added LGBTQ people to his already long list of “the Others,” which includes Mexicans and all Central and South American-heritage people, Muslims, people with disabilities, all women, plus anyone who supports the “Black Lives Matter” movement. By choosing Mike Pence, Trump has double-downed in his attempts to divide and conquer the electorate by instilling fear in promising the bigoted the “freedom” to discriminate to the fullest extent of the law without the threat of prosecution.
Members of the trans community often suffer the consequences of other truth tellers of the past. Nearly every two – three days, a person is killed somewhere in the world for expressing gender nonconformity. The vast majority of murders are of trans women of color.
The Trump administration’s latest assault on trans people will prove to be a total failure by discharging and preventing service by talented and committed people who would have joined the ranks, many who held or could have potentially held critical positions, for example, as language interpreters and other military specialists.
As our troops are currently stretched thin throughout the world’s conflict areas, the reinstated ban only exacerbates the problem and discredits our country by eliminating an entire class of people whose only desire is to contribute to the defense of their nation.
We must admire trans folks for maintaining a willingness to join the military following such scurrilous representations of them, but permitting policymakers, the majority presumably heterosexual and largely cisgender male, to dictate policy over whether trans service members are granted permission openly to serve our country makes about as much sense as allowing men to determine whether women get the vote or whether women maintain control over their reproductive freedoms.
The question is not whether they will “allow” us to serve openly. The more salient question is whether we can forgive them for their dehumanizing, offensive, and downright prejudicial stereotypical characterizations.
Though eventually legislators reversed the former “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy that banned lesbian, gay, and bisexual people entry into the military, history will record and remember this indelible stain on the reputation of the United States. While the country now needs to undergo its developmental process in gaining a greater awareness regarding the needs, concerns, and realities of trans people, we will not forget, and for many of us, we will find it difficult to forgive.