Trump’s transgender military ban– down with transphobia and imperialism!

Posted: July 31, 2017 in Call to Action, For your information, for your reflection, Real Food For Thought, Saying it like it should be said., Solidarity, We Love Queers, We want justice now!


Newspaper of the Party of Socialism and Liberation.

Trump’s transgender military ban — down with transphobia and imperialism!

By IV Sta

On July 26, Donald Trump announced via Twitter that transgender people would no longer be allowed to enlist or serve in the U.S. military “in any capacity.” Trump cited what he called “tremendous medical costs and disruption” in a promise to overturn the Obama administration’s 2016 decree allowing trans people to serve openly.

The tweet appears to have caught many in the upper White House echelons off guard — including defense secretary Mattis, who had a day’s notice of Trump’s decision. It is not entirely clear if the military ban can happen simply because the president makes a tweet. Nonetheless, most of the GOP has applauded the tweet, praising Trump for pandering so well to his ultra-conservative base.
The announcement was less surprising to trans people across the United States, considering the open transphobia Trump has expressed throughout his business career, campaign and presidency. In contrast to his campaign statement that he was an “ally” to LGBTQ people — which was supported by nothing — Trump’s first actions in office were removing the LGBTQ rights page from the White House website and rescinding the Obama administration’s federal guideline to interpret Title IX as inclusive of trans students.

The rationale for the tweet, in true Trump character, is completely baseless. Medical transition, which is presumably what Trump is referencing as a “burden,” has zero negative repercussions for the quality of job performance. Moreover, the military budget is the most bloated budget in the U.S. government, and has an allocation for Viagra that is five times the amount of money needed to cover transition-specific treatment for service members.
Regardless of the phony economics, the announcement has already caused a wave of pain in the trans community. Trans Lifeline, a hotline created by and for trans people, is experiencing an enormous uptick in calls following the Twitter rant. Trans Lifeline issued a statement condemning the attack. Part of the statement reads:

“People join the military for a variety of reasons but for many the only other options are homelessness and prison. When 40% of homeless youth identify as LGBTQ, it’s easy to see why joining the military might be an attractive option. In fact, the military may be the largest employer of trans people in the country, with an estimate of 15,500 in 2014.
“The actual number is likely much, much higher as more people are living their truths and coming out as trans every day. All of these trans service members may have lost their jobs and many more people including family, friends, and the entire trans population will be affected. The shockwaves from these tweets are felt throughout the entire trans community, not just by those who are current or former military. This sort of policy choice suggests a careless disregard for the rights of trans people to dignity and self-determination. As trans people around the country struggle to navigate a climate of fear, messages like these can have devastating effects on a person’s mental health. These effects quickly bleed over into other areas of life like work, family, friends, or a person’s ability to pursue their goals. Trans people, regardless of their affiliation with the military, deserve better than this.”

The reality is that trans people, like other oppressed people with limited employment opportunities, are subject to an “economic draft” that encourages them to put their lives on the line in service to U.S. empire. This has been a fixture in the U.S. economy that affects all poor and working class communities, with a disproportionate amount of predatory recruitment to the military targeting youth of color.
Greta Martela, a trans veteran and founder of Trans Lifeline, said to Liberation News: “I served because my family was hungry and there were no jobs for high school dropouts in Reagan’s America.”

Fight imperialism and transphobia!

Following Trump’s announcement, some anti-war activists essentially applauded the tweet, claiming it was a blow to imperialism. This “hot take” conclusion disregards the survival of thousands trans people who depend on their military employment for income, housing and healthcare.
Trump’s announcement is not a step towards weakening the U.S. war machine whatsoever — it is a declaration of bigotry and scapegoating pure and simple. It is a blatant act of discrimination coming from the federal government and the country’s largest employer. In opposing Trump’s ban on trans people in the military, one is not actively encouraging enlistment or advocating for the “right” to kill people abroad; rather it is a basic civil rights issue to say that the federal government should not be able to discriminate against trans people, or any oppressed community.
Trump’s announcement is just another example of why working-class and oppressed people should reject enlistment in the U.S. military, which reaps so much death and destruction abroad, generates mega-profits for banks and corporations and cares not one whit about the service members it sends to kill and be killed. As anti-imperialists, we trying to win trans workers, like all working-class people, away from any belief that their interests coincide with that of the Pentagon war machine, but we do not seek to accomplish that by the capitalist state intervening to ban their participation — just as we do not support state-sanctioned bigotry and discrimination to accomplish any of our aims.
If Trump’s announcement stands, it would have major implications for transphobic discrimination and violence across society. It follows a long stream of transphobic legislation and hate crimes, and it will doubtlessly give rise to other attacks on already-weak nondiscrimination provisions.

Although less covered in the news, immediately following Trump’s Twitter announcement, the U.S. Justice Department issued a legal brief asserting that the Civil Rights Act of 1964 should not be interpreted as offering protections on the basis of sexual orientation.
Heroic whistleblower Chelsea Manning responded deftly to the tweet in a series of her own tweets and an op-ed piece. In the piece she writes:
“Money is the excuse today. It was supposed to be expensive to provide trans people with adequate health care. The reality is that the cost is negligible. Military spending wastes billions of dollars on projects that are canceled or don’t work, every day.

“Medicine was the old excuse. The old military regulations were laced with medical terms to justify discrimination. They psychopathologized us trans people has having ‘manifestations’ of ‘paraphilias,’ and ‘psychosexual conditions, transsexual, gender identity disorder to include major abnormalities or defects of the genitalia such as a change of sex or a current attempt to change sex,’ that would ‘render an individual administratively unfit’ to serve.
“These old regulations could come back. The rhetoric about trans people having ‘mental disorders’ could come back, too. It’s the same thing we see in state houses across the country. Trans people are ‘mentally ill.’ We are ‘predators.’ We are the ethereal enemy of the moment. Even though there is a medical consensus, a military consensus that none of this is true.
“This is about bias and prejudice. This is about systemic discrimination. Like the integration of people of color and women in the past, this was a sign of progress that threatens the social order, and the president is reacting against that progress.”

Transphobia and hypocrisy

Many poor and working trans people have been quick to notice that Democratic Party’s instant outrage about the promised military ban is far different from how they’ve responded to transphobia in all other areas of life.

Throughout the Obama presidency, liberals dragged their feet on nondiscrimination legislation, addressing the epidemic of violence against Black trans women as well as police terror targeting all trans people, the lack of adequate healthcare, housing and employment, and the sky-high poverty rates faced by trans people. Operating under the same old “the Republicans will never allow it” excuse, the Democratic Party refused to use their power during the Obama period to propose any meaningful protections to trans people.

Trans organizer and journalist Chardonnay Merlot told Liberation News: “This is just another way in which the trans community can be discriminated against in employment, not only in the public sector but also it can seep over to the private sector. And that is the part that gives me pause when I suddenly see liberal politicians wringing their hands on this issue. They were absent without leave during the battles for ENDA [Employment Non-Discrimination Act] when that came up in Congress. They were absent without leave when it comes to laws pertaining to personal safety on the streets, in workplaces, in school, for transgender youth and transgender adults.”

People in the U.S. can and must stand in solidarity with trans people at home and abroad — we must resist discrimination in all of its forms while fighting against U.S. imperialism. We are living in an era of increased military aggression and transphobic aggression. Communities are standing up in protest and unity against this and other attacks on trans people, and that movement needs to grow.

We must defend the lives and dignity of trans people against attacks by the state and mobilize our communities to revive a truly powerful, multinational and multi-gender anti-war movement. As Chelsea Manning tweeted on the day of Trump’s announcement, “Today is further reason we should dismantle the bloated military / intel / police state and fund healthcare for all.”

If you are trans, nonbinary or questioning and need emotional support during this difficult time, Trans Lifeline is a 24-hour confidential peer support line staffed by trans volunteers. Trans Lifeline will not report you to the police and has veteran operators available. US: 877-565-8860 / Canada: 877-330-6366. The organization Trans Assistance Project helps trans people navigate various legal and bureaucratic hurdles.


IV Sta is a New Haven activist who we are proud to call comrade. A long time Trans activist and member of the Party for Socialism and Liberation we first met IV Sta during the Justice for Jane rallies and demonstrations in Hartford.



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