Opinion: A Step Backwards for the LGBTQ Community

Man waving rainbow flag on the steps of the Supreme Court in 2015. (Unmodified photo by Ted Eytan used under a Creative Commons license. http://bit.ly/1jxQJMa)

Early Wednesday morning President Trump took to Twitter to advise Americans that transgender soldiers are no longer allowed to serve the U.S. military “in any capacity”. When reached for comment, the Pentagon deferred to the White House, showing how few were expecting these tweets from Trump.

Trump’s reasoning for the ban is the United States “cannot be burdened with the tremendous medical costs and disruption that transgender in the military would entail”. The president is proposing a reduction of military force because of medical costs, which is reported to be .001% of the defense budget, and disruptions. Costs aside, no one willing to serve their country should be seen as a “burden” or “disruption”.

Approximately 15,000 transgender soldiers are enlisted. All of whom were given the freedom and comfort to serve openly last year under President Obama. Now, with nothing but tweets and no legislation, these soldiers are not only left vulnerable, but they are left to wonder what will come of their military career.

Proposing such a ban so informally was quite negligent. First off, the soldiers who enlisted to serve their country were blindsided and now have to consider how they will support themselves and their families – especially those who were planning on becoming career soldiers. Secondly, Trump’s announcement even caught top military officials off guard, showing how Trump’s statement is absent of moral authority.

Thursday morning, Marine Gen. Joe Dunford assured that no modifications would be made to the current policy until Secretary of Defense James Mattis formally receives and processes the news upon his return from vacation. General Dunford also stated that “we will continue to treat all of our personnel with respect”.

While campaigning, Trump both spoke and tweeted about how he would support the LGBTQ community. In July of 2016, Trump tweeted “Thank you to the LGBT community! I will fight for you while Hillary brings in more people that will threaten your freedoms and beliefs”.

Many of Trump’s campaign promises have been inconsistent with his actions, but abruptly announcing that transgender individuals are no longer allowed to serve via Twitter is not only unprofessional, but it is seemingly cruel to go back on such an assuring campaign promise. Trump could not get much more contradictory – assuring he will fight for the LGBTQ community then taking away their freedom to fight.

In the midst of Russian collusion investigations and attempts to repeal Obamacare, the president is focusing on increasing the inequality in America because he feels as if transgender soldiers are a financial burden and distraction.

The president is focusing his energy in the wrong places and he’d be taking America a major step backwards if his tweets were to become legislation. This should bring about feelings of fear and outrage for not only the LGBTQ community, but all American citizens. Trump is threatening to roll back the progress made in recent years, and U.S. citizens should focus their energy on assuring that no one’s freedoms are being taken away regardless of race or gender.

President Truman, 69 years to the day of Trump’s decision, desegregated the U.S. Armed Forces – this paints a picture of Trump walking on the wrong side of history.

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