Chelsea Manning, the best known transgender veteran of the U.S. military, isn’t staying quiet about President Trump’s new ban on transgender soldiers. She penned an op-ed in the New York Times in response to Trump’s announcement and has also taken to Twitter and in-person protest to rally the trans community and its allies against the new ban. And across all platforms, Manning isn’t mincing words.
“This is about bias and prejudice,” she wrote in the Times. “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. But we will move forward.”
Manning explained that, in the past, medical diagnoses were used as excuses for why transgender individuals shouldn’t be allowed to serve the U.S. military, citing the now-outdated view that transgender individuals were suffering from mental illnesses that made them unfit to serve. Now, Manning notes, the Trump administration is claiming that the ban is rooted in the cost of medical care for transgender soldiers. She asserts that “the reality is that the costs are negligible.”
The concern is, according to Manning, that this could be the precursor to further reversal of the strides the transgender community has made over the past several decades. First, the military ban. Next, the renewal of old policies that discriminated against transgender individuals. “These old regulations could come back,” writes Manning. “The rhetoric about trans people having “mental disorders” could come back, too. Even though there is a medical consensus, a legal consensus, a military consensus that none of this is true.”
The widespread outcry against Trump’s new ban indicates not only how much public opinion has changed, but how galvanized the trans community is in preserving its progress. Manning’s op-ed serves as a call-to arms:
“We will make sure that all trans people in the military, and all people outside the military after serving, receive the medical care they need. We will not back down. Our progress will continue. Our organizing and activism will grow stronger. We are neither disruptive nor expensive. We are human beings, and we will not be erased or ignored.”
Manning followed up with a tweet that showed her outside the White House, which she calls “the new ground zero of the war on trans people.” Transgender people aren’t the only ones who have found themselves under fresh siege from the Trump administration. While Trump was trying to kick them out of the armed forces, the Justice Department was filing documents asserting that Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act (which protects against workplace discrimination on the basis of “race, color, religion, sex or national origin”) definitively does not include sexual orientation.
According to new Communications Director Anthony Scaramucci, Donald Trump is the “most pro-LGBTQ rights POTUS in history.” But don’t expect Chelsea Manning or other trans and LGBTQ Americans to buy that line any time soon.
(Via New York Times)