“Today, I have the feeling of being an unappreciated outlander in the country where I served six exemplary years in the Idaho Army National Guard from 1968 to 1974. I was honorably discharged with the rank of Sergeant—and all the while living in the recesses of a deep, dark closet in order to protect the truth of my gender.”
–Emilie Jackson-Edney, Pride Foundation Board Member in Idaho and transgender veteran
This morning, 15,000 transgender people serving in our military around the world were told by their Commander in Chief that their contributions are not valued, that they are not welcome, and that their existence is a burden on the country they fight for every day.
President Trump announced via Twitter that he “will not accept or allow transgender individuals to serve in any capacity in the U.S. military.” This move will reverse the policy put into place by the Obama administration that has allowed transgender people to serve openly and proudly in our military for the past year.
Trump’s actions this morning were cruel and incredibly damaging. Already we’re hearing reports of active duty transgender service members around the world who are terrified of what this means for their jobs and lives.
Like when he removed the protections for transgender children in schools, Trump’s actions have impacts far beyond his immediate targets. Across the country today, Trump sent a loud and clear message to all transgender people: you are not valued, welcome, or worthy of protection.
To our transgender service members: Your efforts and sacrifices made on behalf of our country are deeply appreciated. Your bravery and service deserve so much better than this. We know this must be a heartbreaking and terrifying day for you, but know that we are standing with you. Trans Lifeline and the ACLU’s hotline are resources if you have questions or need support.
And let us also clearly say what our government should be saying:
Our transgender family, friends, and neighbors—whether in the military or not—are valuable members of our community, should be welcome in every aspect of this country, and deserve to be safe and have equal access to care and services. Transgender people are not a burden or a distraction.
Please join us in telling President Trump his disrespectful treatment of transgender service members is harmful and wrong.
Make no mistake, we will fight these attacks every step of the way.
Kris Hermanns is Pride Foundation’s CEO. Email Kris.