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HIV Activists React to Trump's Army Trans Ban

HIV Activist Groups Speak on Trump's Ban of Transgender Troops

Following the president's announcement that trans people will no longer be able to serve our country, HIV activists made their anger known. 

This week, President Donald Trump turned his back on the progress of civil rights by banning transgender people from military service. 

As The Advocate reported, “the decision will likely lead to discharge for the many transgender people who had come out of the closet when President Obama's administration announced a repeal of the previous ban. And it will only further encourage a wave of anti-trans sentiment that is spreading across the country, putting transgender people even outside the military in danger.”

Ideally, trans people who choose to serve in the military are not only allowed to serve openly and have access to insurance coverage for transition-related medical procedures (thanks to policy announced by Ash Carter, Defense secretary under President Obama). Now it seems like we will be going back to darker years, when trans people had to serve in the closet and without the coverage. 

It’s estimated that there are currently 15,000 trans Americans serving in the military, according to The National Center for Transgender Equality.

Even though Joseph Dunford, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said the current policy won’t change until the White House officially laws down rules and guidelines to the Defense Department and the secretary of defense, reports The New York Times, numerous HIV advocacy groups are crying out in protest. 

Gay Men's Health Crisis CEO Kelsey Louie stated:  

President Trump’s proposed ban on transgender people from serving in the military is a direct affront to the thousands of transgender service members who have made tremendous sacrifices for our freedom. Today, more than 6,000 transgender and gender non-conforming Americans proudly serve in the armed forces. This dramatic change in policy devalues their contributions to our country, and effectively creates a second-class citizenship for those who identify as transgender. It is an enormous setback in the fight for equality.

Supporting our troops means supporting every person that serves in uniform—this patriotism should start with our commander in chief. GMHC will continue to fight any assault on LGBT rights, and will not stop until all Americans have the opportunity to serve as they are.

AIDS United stated:  

AIDS United strongly condemns the recent announcement from President Trump stating that the United States government will no longer accept or allow transgender individuals to serve in the military in any capacity. This decision is an unacceptable and gross display of bigotry that is an insult to all U.S. service members faithfully serving their country. When the Obama administration announced last June that transgender individuals would be able to serve openly in the military, we were not “burdened,” but strengthened. A ban against Americans serving in the military because of their gender identity is a malicious and harmful action that is being carried out not for the safety or efficacy of those in uniform, but for the intolerance of those in power.

AIDS United is in solidarity with transgender service members and their families affected by the Trump Administration’s ban on transgender individuals in the military. We call on the Trump administration to immediately retract this ban and affirm the rights of transgender individuals to serve in the U.S. military.

The Positive Women's Networks, a national group of HIV-positive women, stated: 

This morning, via Twitter, Trump announced a ban on all forms of military service for transgender people, ungrammatically and incorrectly claiming that “transgender in the military” would entail “tremendous medical costs and disruption.”

Trump’s inherent premise that some bodies are transgressive, disruptive, and by nature troublesome is at the very root of violence and discrimination faced by people who are trans and gender non conforming (TGNC) – violence which too often is deadly, especially for TGNC people of color. This directive from the White House comes just weeks after the Republican-led US House rejected an amendment to dismantle medical rights of trans folks in the military. The amendment would have denied medical care required for gender transition, including prescription medications and surgeries.

According to Tiommi Luckett, PWN-USA’s Communications Assistant and a black woman of trans experience, “Trump’s tweets are just an amplified example of willful ignorance and unchecked stupidity about trans people and our bodies, which seems to always be the focus of conversation. This is one reason why our rights as human beings are infringed upon categorically, including our rights to housing, education, access to public facilities, healthcare and employment. Our bodies, our appearances and our experiences are deemed unworthy of equal protection and fair access, and hateful rhetoric from the White House basically makes it open season to legislate discrimination. Trans people are not liabilities, nor are we sub-human. And our fight is not for equality, but for equity.”

“We are humans. We are Americans, and we demand the same opportunity as everyone else,” said Naiymah Sanchez, Transgender Advocacy Coordinator at the American Civil Liberties Union of Pennsylvania.

Arneta Rogers, Policy Director at PWN-USA said “It does not escape our notice that the particular battleground for this war on some bodies is the military, but we fight back for the right to self-determination and full participation for people of all gender identities. No body in service to their country should ever been deemed a “burden”.  We will not stop fighting until all of us are free”

PWN-USA will always fight for the humanity, dignity, and full rights of our trans siblings, members, and family to be recognized by the state and by society. These attacks from the highest office in the land pose a direct danger to the safety and human rights of people of trans experience. The administration must reverse and apologize for this ban immediately. ​

The HIV Medicine Organization stated: 

The HIV Medicine Association decries the president’s announcement that his administration intends to ban all transgender individuals from military service, which is a reversal of current policy. As HIV medical providers, we stand firmly opposed to any laws and policies that discriminate against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) individuals. As clinicians, we see firsthand the far-reaching negative consequences of any type of stigma and discrimination on individual health and on public health. Stigma and discrimination too frequently drive transgender persons away from engaging in health care and too often contribute to late diagnoses, poor outcomes and often higher health care costs for a number of health conditions, including HIV infection. We strongly urge the administration to reconsider this regressive stance and any future policy changes that abandon protections based on gender identify that will only serve to divide and weaken us as a country and will seriously undermine our nation’s public health.

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