America has just taken another shameful step backward. President Trump’s long-time dream of a transgender military ban became reality on Friday, which means we are in the first week of once again being a nation that officially discriminates against service members based on their gender identity. At the same time, however, elements in the military are stepping up to express support and offer inclusion to the blameless class of people whom this government treats as second-class citizens.
On Friday, Maj. Gen. Matthew Beevers of the California National Guard rebuffed the ban’s implementation, making clear that “gender identity is the least of our concerns,” according to The Hill. No matter what message the Trump administration may be sending, Beevers wants all individuals who are considering enlisting to feel confident that they will be welcome and valued. “As long as you’re willing to fight, you can serve, in our minds,” he asserted.
Beevers admitted that “we’re compelled as military officers to follow the rules of the folks that are elected and appointed above us, and we’ll continue to do that.” But he also told The Hill that loopholes can allow for “the opportunity to continue to bring transgender service members in as long as they meet the requirements for service.” Together with the Department of the Air Force and the Department of the Army, Beevers said they “will explore every avenue to ensure that transgendered people who want to serve in the California National Guard are afforded every opportunity to serve.”
The U.S. Navy also chose to resist Trump’s hateful message through new guidelines, declaring: “All Service Members are expected to continue to treat each other with dignity and respect. There is zero tolerance for harassment, hazing or bullying of any Service Member in any form.” The guidelines also point out “there is no policy that prohibits the ability of a Service Member to express themselves off-duty in their preferred gender. Appropriate civilian attire, as outlined in the uniform regulations, will not be determined based on gender.” In other words, the Navy is saying that while their hands may be tied when it comes to how sailors present themselves while on active duty, sailors should feel encouraged to “live socially in their preferred gender while off-duty.”
A recent Reuters/Ipsos poll and The Hill-HarrisX survey both reveal that nearly 60 percent of Americans oppose the military transgender ban that was thrust upon us by the world’s most famous bone spurs patient. It is another offensive stain from an administration that relishes the chance to sow division and stoke fear in our society. But the ban’s days, as well as the administration’s, are numbered. Once this dark period of Trumpism ends, his transgender ban will no doubt be among the first of many medieval policies to be relegated to the dustbin of history.