Transgender rights matter

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

President Donald Trump dealt another blow to LGBTQ rights last week when he tweeted that transgender individuals will no longer be allowed to serve in the United States military in any capacity. According to his tweets, the military ďcannot be burdened with the tremendous medical costs and disruption the transgender in the military would entail.Ē

When the news first came out, my ears were ringing. I couldnít think straight. I couldnít find any rhyme or reason for our president to single out a minority group in such a discriminatory way. Iíve calmed down since then, but I still donít understand how thereís so much hatred toward a group of people that isnít hurting anybody.

It has something to do with the nature of politics, Iím sure. Maybe Trump wants to distract from something else going on. Maybe he wants to feed into a culture war for his partyís benefit. Whatever it is, it doesnít matter. Fact is, banning transgender people from entering the military affects the lives of our fellow citizens in a negative way.

Here are some more facts: LGBTQ youth are four times more likely to commit suicide than straight youth. In a national study, 40 percent of transgender adults reported having attempted suicide. LGBTQ youth who have been rejected from their families are 8.4 times as likely to have attempted suicide as their LGBTQ peers who have not been rejected by their family.

Imagine a transgender child growing up dreaming of entering the military someday. Imagine how excited they might be to serve our country. Imagine the way they daydream about the future in bed at night, hoping so deeply to do something that changes the world for the better. Now imagine that same child finding out those dreams are no longer a possibility. How would you feel if you were that child? Would it bring you solace to know youíd be a burden to the military anyway? How do you think that would affect your self-worth?

It can be difficult for people who are confident in their gender identity to understand what it means to be transgender, and I understand that. Personally, I have no idea what it is to feel uncomfortable in my own body. That doesnít mean I write off others who have experienced this. They are people, too. They are my fellow Americans, and I will forever support their right to serve in our military, use the bathroom they prefer and live the life that makes them happiest. They arenít hurting us, so why are so many people determined to hurt them?

To be clear, it is discrimination to ban transgender people from serving in the military. Itís the kind of discrimination that would make you feel worthless if you were targeted by it. Discrimination is not OK when it affects other people. It is never OK, even if youíre safe from it. As a straight woman, Iíve never had to experience the discrimination those in the LGBTQ community face every day. That doesnít mean Iím going to ignore whatís going on around me, and you shouldnít either.

Itís our responsibility as Americans to support the rights of our fellow citizens. When a group is attacked, we should come together to show support for those in that group. When our government is behind the discrimination, we should re-think the kind of people weíve elected into office.

Transgender people are people, just like you and me. The moment we forget that, our country loses its way.