Baltimore’s transgender community and allies are outraged over President Trump’s three tweets on Wednesday that called for a ban on transgender individuals serving in the military. They view the reversal of policy as an unjustified attack on transgender individuals who wish to defend the nation.
The city has a sizable and active trans community, and Ava Pipitone, executive director of the Baltimore Transgender Alliance told the Blade, “This does seem like an escalation against our family.”
Her organization issued the following statement: “Transgender people are valuable. The message we hear today is that the 15,000+ active transgender service members are not fit to serve. Regardless of what our 45th president believes, our family is serving; we have been and will continue to fight for our rights and our liberation. And our family members have always been fighting for our country. We will continue to contribute to this city and this country’s communities and economy. Support us here, now. We have been serving since before you.”
Other organizations weighed in as well.
“This morning Donald Trump launched a full-fledged attack on the transgender service members who seek to dutifully serve our nation, claiming ‘tremendous medical costs and disruption,’” said Mark Procopio, executive director of FreeState Justice.
“Donald Trump’s transphobic statements are an affront to the 15,000 transgender service members honorably serving the United States of America. Research shows that allowing trans people to serve openly is beneficial to unit cohesion and the cost of transition-related care minimal. The trans service members who put their lives on the line for our country deserve more from their Commander-in-Chief.”
He adds, “FreeState Justice strongly condemns this latest attack on transgender Americans by the Trump administration and will continue to fight for the rights of LGBTQ Marylanders. We stand in solidarity with the thousands of brave transgender people protecting our country. We see you. We hear you.”
The Pride Foundation of Maryland stated: “Right now, we want every transgender service member in Maryland and every transgender Marylander serving anywhere in the world to know that tweets are not official military policy. We know that Outserve – SLDN is preparing a lawsuit to challenge any order issued by the President, which will make discrimination against trans service members DoD policy. Open trans service has been in place since October 2016 and this is a retrograde attempt by the anti-LGBT right to reverse existing military policy.”
Nate Sweeney, executive director of the LGBT Health Resource Center of Chase Brexton Health Care told the Blade, “It is unthinkable to me that the commander-in-chief would attack the patriotism and work of more than 130,000 transgender veterans, place a looming threat of uncertainty above 15,000 active duty transgender service members, and place a barrier of discrimination in front of those who wish to serve our country.
“If this set of tweets is an advancement of actual policy, it is ill-informed, backwards-facing, and un-American. If these tweets are meant as a distraction from other issues in Washington, such as the attacks on the Affordable Care Act, then they show a callous disregard for transgender citizens in this country. These statements create a climate of fear, misinformation, and lies about the medical care required to support transgender individuals. As an organization that provides care to more than 2,000 transgender patients, we know that these actions have a significant impact on people’s lives.
“Transgender people serve in the military at twice the rate of the general population. That means that one person with 5 deferments equates to 10 transgender people who put their lives on the line for our country.”
Others see this as an opportunity to unify the LGBTQ community.
“This aggressive posturing by the 45th president will harm trans service members and their families,” Rev. Merrick Moses, Chapter President, Black Trans Advocacy MD/DC Chapter, told the Blade. “People will lose their jobs and livelihoods behind this unfair and unjust pronouncement. This is an extension of the trans antagonism we have seen from this White House. The Secretary of Education rolled back protections for trans students. It is time for the LGBTQ Americans to unify to protect ourselves from government sanctioned discrimination.”