Campus community reacts to President Trump’s ban of transgender individuals from US military

Myles Cullen/Creative Commons
President Donald Trump and Gen. Joseph Votel, commander of U.S. Central Command Commander, meet with service members at MacDill, AFB, FL, Feb. 6, 2017. (DoD photo by D. Myles Cullen/Released)

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President Donald Trump announced in a series of tweets Wednesday morning that the United States will “not accept or allow” transgender individuals “to serve in any capacity” in the U.S. military.

Trump’s announcement is a reversal from a policy drafted by the Obama administration last year which would allow transgender people to openly serve in the U.S. military. The announcement also comes on the 69th anniversary of President Harry Truman’s signing of Executive Order 9981, which mandated the abolishment of racial discrimination in the United States Armed Forces.

Trump wrote in his tweets that the decision was made after “consultation” with generals and military experts. In a White House press briefing, White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said the White House and Department of Defense will work together to develop a legal implementation policy.

“Our military must be focused on decisive and overwhelming victory and cannot be burdened with the tremendous medical costs and disruption that transgender in the military would entail,” Trump wrote.

The campus Air Force ROTC program could not be reached for comment. The campus Army and Navy ROTC programs referred The Daily Californian to the Department of Defense and White House press offices, which could not be reached for comment.

ASUC Senator-elect Juniperangelica Cordova, who also identifies as a member of the transgender community, expressed in an email mixed reactions to the president’s announcement.

Cordova wrote that the transgender ban supports “an environment that not only permits, but promotes, targeted violence on marginalized communities,” adding that “transgender students continue to be seen as members of a community that anyone can launch targeted discrimination against, and like the POTUS, get away with it.”

She added, however, that her feelings were complicated because she did not believe “participation within the imperialist US military should be a method of fighting for transgender justice and liberation.”

“I expect the university and campus community to remain adamant that transgender people deserve the same, equitable protections all marginalized people deserve and need,” Cordova wrote in an email. “However, it is vital to remain conscious that the military has a history of perpetuating violence on Black and brown people abroad, and actively promoting participation within the military for trans and non-trans people walks a fine line of pro-imperialism. Transgender liberation will not be found within war.”

Alexander Wilfert, an ASUC Senator-elect and campus ROTC community advocate, stated in a Facebook message he was “extremely disappointed” in a decision that “is rooted in hate and fear,” and expressed concern for the potential impact on campus ROTC students “who work incredibly hard to prepare themselves for a lifetime of service.”

Gender Equity Resource Center Director Billy Curtis said while he was not sure of the exact impact Trump’s transgender ban would have upon the campus ROTC program, he was “saddened at the quite backwards announcement.”

“In 2017, to have our current president on 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue saying he’s going to go forward with banning a class of individuals … is beyond sad. It’s sickening. It’s disgusting,” Curtis said. “We here on our campus continue to strive to be a more inclusive and welcoming place for all genders. In noticing this disgusting tweet, it’s a good time to remind folks we have a long way to go.”

Bobby Lee is an assistant news editor. Contact Bobby Lee at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter at @bobbylee_dc.