The Trans Military Ban: The Daring Argument for Dignity

On the morning of January 22nd, the Supreme Court of the United States upheld the Trump administration’s ban on transgender individuals serving in the military. While legal challenges are allowed to continue in the lower courts and work their way up to the Supreme Court, the Court determined in the meantime, the ban will be in place. This ban – that came into fruition via Twitter from President Trump in 2017, is a disgusting ploy to rile up his wavering base in the midst of a neverending government shutdown while he attempts to hold Americans hostage to get money for his wall, which has now reached the point of grotesque xenophobic fetish.

Honestly, I’ve been infuriated about this all morning. I’ve been trying to find words and justifications and excuses, and all I can think about is having to talk to a member of my family that supports Trump about this. So I have framed it below in preparation for the calls I’ll get, and I hope this can help you as we try to change minds of the folks we can talk to, and to let go of the conversations with folks that are hopeless.

There are multiple lower court cases pending about this ban, and it will eventually make it all the way up to the Supreme Court. But for SCOTUS to allow this ban to be in place signals the beginning of the Kavanaugh era: an era brought on by the votes of many of the people that I love. This ban is just ruthless. There is no reason for it, and I will as rationally as I can and with as few swear words as possible, try to explain this below.

UNBELIEVABLE EXCUSE #1: We shouldn’t have to pay for their health care!

WE PAY FOR ALL OF THE HEALTH CARE FOR ALL OF THE MILITARY. AND THE GUNS. AND THE BOMBS. ARE YOU KIDDING? Annual healthcare costs for the current trans population is 1.3 million! That is .017% of the military’s annual budget, serving a group that is estimated to be a half of a percent of the military population (somewhere between 6,000 and 10,000 people depending on the study).

Less than 2% of the active military members who identify as transgender request medical transition that would disrupt their service. LESS THAN 2%. THESE NUMBERS ARE NOTHING.

How much was spent on erectile dysfunction meds for the military in the same year? Over 84 million dollars.

UNBELIEVABLE EXCUSE #2: But you aren’t a trans person in the military!

You’re right. But my community is the LGBTQ community. And we (try to) look out for one another. The most vulnerable our community are the ones that need protection- and this sends a chilling effect both throughout the military and the country that trans identity is NOT legitimate. That if you have a trans co-worker and they change their name, that you don’t have to respect that and can make fun of them behind their back. That insurance companies can skyrocket prices for hormone therapy because its “cosmetic” and not crucial to save a life. Hate crimes for all marginalized groups are up across the nation

UNBELIEVABLE EXCUSE #3: This is about safety and security! 

Did you know that compared to the general population, American veterans have a higher population of transwomen by as many as 5x the general population? Why do you think that is? Because trans folks have been using the military industrial complex to ESCAPE their small towns with all those closed minds for decades. FOR SURVIVAL. In an interview with Diane Sawyer in 2015, Caitlyn Jenner (who is fraught with controversy) explained that she would have never been an Olympic champion without the drive to reach peak masculinity, to run so far away from her identity that she buried herself in it. Trans folks turn to the military for a myriad of reasons, just like the rest of Americans: to find themselves, to discover who they are, to serve their country, to get the F*** out of poverty. If you want to talk safety, let’s talk safety. And let’s start with creating a system where trans folks are safe enough to work, to change their gender markers, and to go to the bathroom without being mocked, beat up, or murdered.

UNBELIEVABLE EXCUSE #4: What about gender dysphoria? Isn’t that a mental illness?

If we are going to ban everyone with mental illness from the military, we will not have a military. Anxiety and depression affect a huge swatch of the general population, and we don’t even see a crumb of the trauma so many in the military do. So let me get this straight, anyone who suffers from mental illness shouldn’t serve? Then you’ll be defending our shores solo, Sharon. Forcing trans folks to STAY in the closet will lead to higher rates of suicide and mental illness, so you are actually making conditions worse for unit cohesiveness and trust by forcing trans military members to stay in the closet (Unit cohesiveness is often cited as a bogus excuse for not letting trans folks serve.) This unit-cohesiveness argument was also used as a legal argument against WOMEN and PEOPLE OF COLOR serving in the military, so try f*cking again. Oops. I swore. Sorry.


Excuses, excuses… the bottom line? This is a heartless argument, targeting a fraction of the U.S. military (less than 10,000 out individuals). You have to ask yourself: why? Why target such a small population that costs fiscally nothing in the scheme of our gargantuan military budget?

The answer is clear: hate. Erasing trans folks, degrading their identities, cutting them at the core of who they are and what they do… this is how you destroy communities. They aren’t coming for the white, middle-class cisgender folks who work cushy marketing jobs and marry another cisgender folks and stay in the burbs. They start with the most vulnerable and work their way up. I don’t think you need a crystal ball to know what is going to happen in the Supreme Court when this gets in front of them, and regardless of the outcome, so much damage is already done. The question you have to ask yourself as we head into 2020 is: how far do you think they will go? Will they get to you? Your family? Your livelihood? Maybe then, you’ll join us in voting cruelty out of office.


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