UC Berkeley must fight back against Trump’s transgender military ban

NATIONAL ISSUES: At a time when the federal government is promoting transphobia, the campus community must take concrete steps to support transgender and gender non-conforming individuals

Alexander Hong/Staff

This week, the Supreme Court voted 5-4 in favor of allowing the Trump administration’s ban on transgender people serving in the military — a decision that completely dehumanizes trans individuals, depicting them as unfit and a burden to serve.

In 2017, President Donald Trump claimed the military “cannot be burdened with the tremendous medical costs and disruption” of transgender individuals. What? Each year, the military spends an estimated $84 million on erectile dysfunction medication — that’s nearly 10 times the cost of annual transgender health care services for active-duty service members.

By prioritizing erectile dysfunction medication over transgender health care, the administration is delegitimizing the needs of transgender individuals. These individuals are risking their physical and mental well-being to serve this country — at the very least, they deserve to have their basic health care needs met.

This ban is just one of many attacks the Trump administration has made on transgender individuals. In 2018, The New York Times leaked a memo regarding the creation of a definition of sex as unchangeable and binary under Title IX, and the U.S. Department of Justice told the Supreme Court it doesn’t consider anti-trans workplace discrimination a violation of federal law. The impact of these regressive policies is clear: a national narrative that erases transgender individuals.

So at a time when the federal administration is determined to strip transgender people of their rights, California representatives must fight back. Many recently elected officials ran on platforms supporting LGBTQ+ individuals — now is the time for them to uphold their campaign promises and take action.

The rhetoric the federal government is promoting permeates into local communities — just last semester, ASUC Senator Isabella Chow publicly made anti-LGBTQ+ statements. When the Trump administration seeks to dehumanize marginalized communities, everyone must resist. The campus administration has initiated these efforts by adding gender-neutral bathrooms, creating safe changing spaces in locker rooms and ensuring that transition-related health care is covered under the campus Student Health Insurance Plan. These are positive steps in the right direction, but the community must do more to change the campus culture.

According to the 2015 “UC Berkeley Campus Climate Survey,” transgender and genderqueer students face the second-highest rates of exclusion on campus. Another alarming statistic indicated that only 65 percent of transgender and genderqueer students felt their group was respected on campus, compared to 93 percent of women and 95 percent of men.

It’s not enough to provide resources to transgender community members — the campus administration and the student body need to ensure that transgender individuals are safe and welcomed on this campus.

Here are just a few ways the campus can do more for transgender and gender-nonconforming community members: holding mandatory gender-sensitivity training for staff members, including gender pronouns on Cal 1 Cards and CalCentral, and ensuring that campus websites and health services use gender-inclusive language.

So let’s be clear: Allyship is more than simply standing against Trump. Respect and honor the chosen pronouns of those around you. Actively check your own internalized transphobia. And take concrete steps to make the community an inclusive environment.

Editorials represent the majority opinion of the Editorial Board as written by the opinion editor.