Tag Archives: Transgender Community

Joint Chiefs To Troops: No Change To Military’s Policy On Transgender Service Members

Gen. Joseph Dunford, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, announced today that despite Donald Trump’s tweet to the contrary there has been no change yet to the military’s policy regarding transgender personnel.

In the message, which was sent to the chiefs of the military branches and senior enlisted leaders, Dunford said that the military will continue to “treat all of our personnel with respect.”

I know there are questions about yesterday’s announcement on the transgender policy by the President. There will be no modifications to the current policy until the President’s direction has been received by the Secretary of Defense and the Secretary has issued implementation guidance.”

In the meantime, we will continue to treat all of our personnel with respect. As importantly, given the current fight and the challenges we face, we will all remain focused on accomplishing our assigned missions.”

About 15,000 transgender troops are currently serving openly in the United States military. In June of 2016, then-Secretary of Defense Ash Carter announced that already-serving transgender troops could come out without fear of discharge. He also established a plan to let openly transgender people enroll in the military within one year.

On Wednesday morning, however, Trump declared on Twitter that “the United States Government will not accept or allow” transgender individuals “to serve in any capacity in the U.S. Military.” Trump’s proclamation raised the real possibility that the thousands of transgender troops in uniform might be purged.

But Trump made his announcement without consulting the Pentagon. He reportedly did not even discuss the issue with his Secretary of Defense, James Mattis, who has strongly supported open transgender service in the past. Trump’s sudden decision threatened to jettison years of careful planning and preparation on the part of the military.

It also left military leaders in a lurch, caught between the president’s tweets and formal policy. The Navy has clarified that, at least for now, transgender troops may still serve and receive transition-related medical care; Dunford’s letter makes clear that remains official policy in every branch of the armed forces.

Yesterday Senator John McCain, the chairman of the Senate Armed Forces Committee and a decorated war hero, criticized Trump’s social-media fiat.

The President’s tweet this morning regarding transgender Americans in the military is yet another example of why major policy announcements should not be made via Twitter.

The statement was unclear. The Department of Defense has already decided to allow currently-serving transgender individuals to stay in the military, and many are serving honorably today. Any American who meets current medical and readiness standards should be allowed to continue serving. There is no reason to force service members who are able to fight, train, and deploy to leave the military—regardless of their gender identity. We should all be guided by the principle that any American who wants to serve our country and is able to meet the standards should have the opportunity to do so—and should be treated as the patriots they are.

The Department of Defense is currently conducting a study on the medical obligations it would incur, the impact on military readiness, and related questions associated with the accession of transgender individuals who are not currently serving in uniform and wish to join the military. I do not believe that any new policy decision is appropriate until that study is complete and thoroughly reviewed by the Secretary of Defense, our military leadership, and the Congress.

The Senate Armed Services Committee will continue to follow closely and conduct oversight on the issue of transgender individuals serving in the military.

 

Trump, With A Single Tweet, Bans Transgender People From Serving In The US Military

During his presidential campaign, Donald Trump promised to turn the page on years of Republican hostility to progress on gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender rights by being an even better friend to the LGBTQ community than his opponent, Hillary Clinton.

He waved a rainbow flag. He denounced Clinton and her foundation for taking donations from ultra-conservative Saudi Arabia, and warned the gay community after the Orlando massacre that Clinton’s immigration stance would bring “more people that will threaten your freedoms and beliefs”.

Then just weeks after Defense Secretary Jim Mattis ordered a six month review on the Defense Department’s transgender policy, Trump announced over Twitter that the government will not accept or allow transgender individuals in the military.

https://twitter.com/realDonaldTrump/status/890193981585444864

https://twitter.com/realDonaldTrump/status/890196164313833472

https://twitter.com/realDonaldTrump/status/890197095151546369

The move came as a total surprise to most people, even in his own party.

Like the travel ban before it, it was quickly released and poorly thought out. Announced on Twitter, with no detail to follow, the futures of thousands of people were thrown into doubt. Would those already serving in the US and abroad be discharged? When would this happen and how? Press secretary Sarah Huckabee-Sanders couldn’t say on Wednesday, and threatened to shut down the press briefing when reporters kept asking questions.

 Major advocacy groups depicted Mr Trump’s pronouncement as an appeal to the portion of his conservative base that opposes the recent civil-rights gains by the LGBT community.

Sarah Kate Ellis of GLAAD said:

President Trump today issued a direct attack on transgender Americans, and his administration will stop at nothing to implement its anti-LGBTQ ideology within our government – even if it means denying some of our bravest Americans the right to serve and protect our nation.

Today further exposed President Trump’s overall goal to erase LGBTQ Americans from this nation. Trump has never been a friend to LGBTQ Americans, and this action couldn’t make that any more clear.”

The Democrats said:

Right this moment, around the world, brave transgender service members are protecting the American people – including Donald Trump and Mike Pence.

While the White House claims to be celebrating ‘American Heroes’ week, the president and vice president are shoving real American patriots back in the closet and putting our nation’s security at risk.

Donald Trump said he would protect LGBTQ people, but today’s decision to ban transgender Americans from serving in the military proves his promise was another bald-faced lie.

Democrats stand with the transgender community and we will fight this administration’s bigotry tooth-and-nail. Those who defend our right to live freely should be able to serve freely.

This cowardly statement by Donald Trump shames our nation and its history of advancing diversity in our military – from the integration of African-Americans into the military by President Truman to President Obama’s ending of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell – and it is an insult to the millions of Americans who have courageously served our nation.”

The Human Rights Campaign attacked the White House for a “deeply troubling and patently unpatriotic assault on military families”.

The group added:

[Trump and Pence should] be working to ensure all service members and their families are getting the support and resources they need and deserve, regardless of their gender identity or sexual orientation.”

Chad Griffin added:

Today Donald Trump has proven himself as unpatriotic as he is unfit to serve as Commander in Chief. He has put a target on the backs of the more than 15,000 transgender troops proudly serving in our military.

This heinous and disgusting action endangers the lives of American service members, undermines military readiness and makes our country less safe.

It is also the latest effort by Trump and Mike Pence to undo our progress and drag LGBTQ people back into the closet by using our lives as political pawns.”

The President famously dodged the draft four times during the Vietnam war, and has never served in the military.

Trump’s new ban is reminiscent of rules that banned gay people from openly serving in the military.

Transgender Community Left Out Of India’s Election System

The upcoming election process taking place in India is leaving trans people out, due to lack of proper identification documents.

Statistics released by the Election Commission of India show that a percentage as low as 4% of trans people in India are enrolled in voter lists, while about 41,000 trans people were identified by the 2011 census, and it is believed there are much more. Only 1,654 people are those enrolled in the lists of Maharashtra. According to an election official who spoke at DNA India:

This is abysmally low considering the fact that a dozen hijras roam around Mumbai and Thane”.

Hijra is a term used in South Asia – mostly in India and Pakistan – that refers to trans people who were assigned male at birth. Trans people in India have been legally recognized as a “third gender” outside the binary of male and female. Last year, a bill that protected trans people from violence and sexual assault was passed, with the purpose of increasing employment and education opportunities for trans people in India.

A 2014 supreme court ruling was supposed to establish transgender as a legal category of identity, adding a third gender option on official IDs, as has been done in Nepal, Bangladesh, and Pakistan.

Still, many trans people admit that they wouldn’t change their IDs in order not to lose basic rights like marriage, transferring property or adopting children (all of which are rights only applicable to people who belong to the male-female legal binary), or to be ostracized by their families.

In addition, trans people who wish to change their passports or licenses must go through a screening committee that decides whether they qualify as transgender, a process which often submits them to discrimination and violations from medical practitioners. Trans Indians are also often denied these services because they were obliged, at some point, to flee their family home quickly and without an ID, to join hijra communities in big cities.

Trans people face severe discrimination by medical practitioners and social services in India. According to Shashi Bharti, member of the Naz Foundation Trust, an NGO for sexual health in Delhi, trans clients are often refused anti-retroviral treatment when they can’t provide ID and proof of residence, because of the aforementioned reason.

Activists are speaking up for the need of inclusion of the transgender community in the enrolment process by the Election Commission. Campaigner Harish Iyer says:

Since most hijras don’t have a proper home and many of them lack Aadhaar and other ID cards, they would remain out of the EC’s campaign. Since the right wing government has not been supportive of this community, government agencies are unlikely to go the extra mile to cover the third gender”.

Suhana, a 40-year-old hijra, speaks about the reluctance of trans people to enroll, since they don’t believe that the situation is going to change, even if they actively participate in the elections.

Transgender Community Still Faces Horrifying Levels of Discrimination, Says Official U.S. Survey

The National Center for Transgender Equality finally released the 2015 Transgender Survey, which includes data from over 27,000 trans* U.S. citizens. This is the most comprehensive survey of transgender Americans to date. Information was culled from “27,715 respondents from all fifty states, the District of Columbia, American Samoa, Guam, Puerto Rico, and U.S. military bases overseas.”

The results of the report were grim.

Mistreatment

  • 10% of respondents have had a family member become violent toward them because they were transgender
  • 8% were kicked out of their homes for being transgender
  • 54% of transgender students have been verbally harassed by classmates for being transgender
  • 24% of transgender students have been physically attacked by classmates for being transgender
  • 13% of transgender students have been sexually assaulted by classmates for being transgender
  • 30% of transgender workers were fired, denied a promotion, or otherwise mistreated (including verbal, physical or sexual assault) at the workplace in 2014

Economics

  • 29% are living in poverty (national average: 14%)
  • 15% are unemployed (national unemployment rate: 5%)
  • 30% have been homeless at some point during their lifetimes
  • 12% of respondents were homeless during 2014

Mental and Physical Health

  • 40% have attempted suicide (national average: 4.6%)
  • 33% were verbally harassed or refused treatment while seeking healthcare
  • 33% could not afford to seek healthcare
  • 4% are living with HIV (national average: 0.3%)

Intersectionality

Transgender people of color, undocumented immigrants and transgender people with disabilities face compounded difficulties.

  • 43% of Latinx transgender people, 41% of American Indian transgender people, 40% of multiracial transgender people and 38% of black transgender people are living in poverty (national average: 14%)
  • 20% of transgender people of color are unemployed (national unemployment rate: 5%)
  • 7% of black transgender people are living with HIV (national average: 0.3%)
  • 19% of black transgender women are living with HIV
  • 24% of transgender undocumented immigrants were physically attacked in 2014
  • 50% of transgender undocumented immigrants have been homeless at some point in their lifetimes
  • 68% of transgender undocumented immigrants have been domestically abused
  • 24% of transgender people with disabilities are unemployed
  • 45% of transgender people with disabilities are living in poverty
  • 42% of transgender people with disabilities have been mistreated while seeking healthcare
  • 54% of transgender people with disabilities have attempted suicide

Despite the increased visibility and acceptance of transgender people, there is clearly a lot of room for improvement. Transgender people, like all members of the LGBT community, deserve to live in safety and security.

For more information, read the full report or the executive summary, and watch the official presentation of findings below. (Lee el resumen ejecutivo en español aquí.)