Trans Military Ban — Ugly, Unprecedented, and Unsurprising

March 13, 2019 | 2 min. read

Yesterday, the US Defense Department approved a plan to ban transgender people who have transitioned from enlisting in the military. The policy will also keep people currently enlisted in the military from beginning a transition without losing their jobs.

This is an ugly and unprecedented step backward—but not a surprising one.

The US military, after all, is a profoundly violent institution—it shouldn’t come as a surprise that it turns that violence on its members, in addition to targets of US imperialism around the world. President Trump has also been threatening to banish all transgender people from the military since July 2017.

That said, the military is also likely the single largest employer of transgender people in the United States. Nearly 15,000 trans people are on active duty or in reserve. It’s estimated that trans people are between 2 and 5 times as likely to enlist in the military as cisgender people. For all its many faults, the military offers many working-class trans people a way out of unsafe living situations and access to resources that are otherwise hard to find. And while the military often doesn’t deliver on the access it offers, it’s not surprising that many trans people choose to enlist in the military from a set of limited options.

There’s no way around the fact that, for many transgender people, the military is providing for their basic needs in a hostile world.

Trans people deserve to flourish in a world that does not attack us, demean us, or treat us like we’re disposable. Trans people deserve to live in a world with the same access to the necessities and joys of life as everyone else. This policy from the Trump administration and approved by the US Defense Department undoubtedly threatens that world.

We know it can be scary, but we’re not giving up—we hope you won’t either.

In the weeks ahead, we will keep working to support trans people with direct service. If this news has affected you, and you need some support, please call us, and we can connect you with our support operators, all of whom are trans and some of whom are veterans as well. If you need a legal name change or an updated ID, our Microgrants program can guide you, and even cut you a check for the entire cost.

Whatever comes our way, we’ll face it together. We’re here for you, and we’re not going anywhere.


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