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Transphobia Is the Official Position of the Trump White House

Transphobia is the Official Position of the Trump White House

The exclusion of trans people from the armed forces is an injustice to all trans people, regardless of our relationship with the military.

This year marks the 69th anniversary of President Truman's signing of Executive Order 9981 on July 26, 1948, which began the process for the desegregation of the armed forces. It made it the policy of the United States that people of all races should have equal opportunity to serve their country in the military. Truman's actions were not easy, let alone convenient: less than two weeks earlier, his support of civil rights had already spurred many Southern Democrats into walking out of the party's national convention and supporting Strom Thurmond for president. Pundits at the time nearly universally agreed that Truman was going to lose that year's election to Republican Thomas Dewey.

Nearly seven decades later, President Donald Trump marked the anniversary of one of America's great steps toward equality by enacting one of America's great injustices. That morning, by tapping out 140 characters, Trump announced that transgender people would no longer be welcome in the military, reversing the progress of the last few years. As a Latina transgender woman, I am saddened but not surprised that transphobia is the official position of the Trump White House.

Supporters of Trump's actions and of the White House memorandum that has been crafted to codify this injustice will make many arguments about supposed unit cohesion or about the expense of providing hormone replacement therapy or about deployability or, worse yet, about making other members of the military uncomfortable. But the truth is that, much like racial segregation in the armed forces was never about unit cohesion or military readiness, this isn't either. It's about bigotry and transphobia, full stop.

Transgender people have already been serving in the military at higher rates than the rest of the population, with nearly one in five having been in the armed services at some point in their lives. As the military's own research has demonstrated, there is no practical reason why trans people should be kept from the service. At a time when we're heading toward a surge of troops in Afghanistan and are engaging in saber rattling in North Korea, to be kicking out able and willing service members is to play with our national security for the sake of domestic political brownie points.

Regardless of our opinion as progressives on the role and actions of our military, the armed forces have served for many years as the source of a career, an education, and above all, a way of life for many who, despite their potential, are not given the chance elsewhere. Transgender people, who are so much more likely to live in poverty and face employment discrimination across the board, are no different. Additionally, much as in the Truman age the military was able to lead by example in the fight against racial segregation, the military's banning of trans people also provides an example -- a horrifying one -- to lawmakers across the country who wish to do us harm. The exclusion of trans people from the armed forces is an injustice to all trans people, regardless of our relationship with the military.

Ultimately, we will prevail. Our opponents shall never understand a simple fact: that the ideals of justice, freedom, and equality are immortal and never die, no matter how much you try to bury them. It's up to us to fight, and fight we will, for all the lives and livelihoods that are at stake. At the National LGBTQ Task Force, we continue to broadcast the voices of equality on Capitol Hill. Please join the efforts by calling your elected representatives and say no to Trump's ban and ask them to oppose as well.

VICTORIA M. RODRIGUEZ-ROLDAN, JD, is senior policy counsel, trans/GNC justice project director, and disability justice project director at the National LGBTQ Task Force.

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Victoria M. Rodriguez-Roldan