Opinion |Trump’s Transgender Military Ban Wouldn’t Last a New York Minute in Toronto (Or Any Other Place in Canada)

President-elect Donald Trump visit’s the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. Jan. 19, 2017. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Alicia Brand/released)

I promised myself sleep, and will pay dearly in the morning for lack of it, but not as dearly as the transgender service members who believed they had been accepted into the United States’ military ranks. Earlier in the week Trump’s latest twitter barrage changed that reality. Abandoning his usual targets of blame, Democrats, Clinton, the media, Trump instead chose to launch a sneak attack on transgender service members. A guerilla war waged without provocation on Americans by the nation’s own commander-in-chief. It was a cowardly declaration.

“Trump declared that with the exception of Abraham Lincoln, he “can be more presidential than any president that’s ever held this office…it’s real easy.”

In Trump’s latest tweets, transgender troops almost 15,000 in number, were told that the military no longer wants or accepts them. Despicable. Egregious. Typical Trump.

Trump not unlike the Tasmanian Devil continues to spin madly and angrily through the White House halls leaving behind a swath of lies and broken promises. He is under siege, angered by his own image reflected back to him by the media, as he attempts to shatter any mirror he sees, any shiny surface that bears his image or his name. Perhaps he is simply now an unwanted president without a plan or a heart, but for the visceral tweets that haunt every waking hour. And so “Taz” Trump continues to spin madly and angrily out of control.

Yet at his latest campaign style rally in Youngstown, Ohio, Trump boasted that but for Abraham Lincoln, he “can be more presidential than any president that’s ever held this office…it’s real easy.” So he says. Call it both ironic and ignorant that Trump should single out a president who truly understood the meaning of freedom.

“Trump, he deliberately sets fires to distract from the reality, that the White House is in flames…”

It’s the media coverage of Trump’s ongoing political failures that Trump dislikes and so he attempts to rewrite the very narratives he has fueled. Contemporaneous with the transgender announcement the news for the week included Russia collusion, the beleaguered healthcare bill, the Boy Scout’s apology for Trump’s speech, public in-fighting among his staff, and Trump’s disparaging tweets in regard to his Attorney General Jeff Sessions. When things get bad, as they always are for Trump, he deliberately sets his own fires to distract from the reality that the White House is in flames.

Trump’s self-imposed ban on transgender military personnel became the MOAB (mother of all bombs) this week, the friendly fire to distract from the present White House headlines. But why pick transgender service members as the shiny object? In the president’s world the answer is simple. Why not?

Trump tweeted, “…please be advised that the United States Government will not accept or allow transgender individuals in any capacity in the U.S. military.” The sound was deafening and the blast radius infinite.

As a Canadian, I am fortunate to enjoy the full benefit and support of extensive human rights legislation on a provincial, as well as a federal level. In other words, Trump and his discriminatory tweets wouldn’t last a New York minute in Canada, as they would  constitute clears breaches of the “Code”.

“Let’s weigh that against the $84 million the military spends on medication for erectile dysfunction…”

Trump’s tweet continued, “…our military must be focused on decisive and overwhelming victory…” yet the announcement alone and the manner of its release has thrown the military and its troops into disarray. Trump’s heavy-handed and unjustifiable actions have left the country vulnerable, not just the transgender troops.

Trump’s claim that he consulted with “Generals and military experts” appear to be yet another bold-faced lie, as the Pentagon seemed to be just as taken aback as the general public. Although there had been discussion in regard to medical costs associated with transgender troops, there had been no discussion or recommendation of an all out ban. The numbers themselves don’t add up. While there is an additional health cost anywhere from $4.2 to $5.6 million dollars in regard to transgender military personnel, let’s weigh that against the $84 million the military spends on medication for erectile dysfunction.

The real purpose of Trump’s announcement is to perhaps curry favour from certain members of congress, Republicans who he may have attempted to appease in order to once again push through Trump’s beleaguered healthcare bill, the third time is the charm. Or perhaps Trump simply continues to pander to his 38 percent who want him to take a firm stance against anything contrary to what may be a conservative agenda. As a Torontonian, my only response is suck it up. Everyone has a right to express their sexuality or gender in which ever fashion they choose, and for those rights to be used as political fodder, is beneath contempt.

While Trump continues his games, transgender service members continue to wait in their proverbial foxholes of uncertainty. “What if I still want to fight for my country even if my country does not want to fight for me? What do I do now that I’m here in theatre risking my life? What happens now?” The most recent news from the military suggests they are not on board with their commander-in-chief. In an internal memo, the military conceded, “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 other words, just because the president tweets, it doesn’t mean its policy as yet.

But what makes this last volley of tweets especially dangerous is that they not only threaten the lives of soldiers in present combat theatres, but also threatens to undermine the democratic process and its inalienable freedoms to which I’m sure Abraham Lincoln and Trump would have lots to discuss by virtue of contrast.

This is not Trump’s first anti-LGBTQ position. One month after he took office, in spite of his campaign promises to do everything in his power “to protect LGBTQ citizens”, Trump removed the federal guidelines on bathrooms for transgender students. He latest pivot is nothing new from a president who continues to lie.

As president, Trump does not reserve any right nor does he have the capacity to turn back the clock on human rights. To the American transgender service members, my grandmother, an immigrant born in 1905 who experienced discrimination first hand used to have a phrase. “Nothing lasts forever,” she would lament, as if in her infinite wisdom she knew one day there would be a Donald Trump.

12:14 am.

Further reading:

Coast Guard Commandant: ‘I will not turn my back’ on transgender troops

 

 

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