Trump’s Ban on Transgender People in the U.S. Military

An Outrage, a Signal, and an Ominous Sign of Things to Come

July 31, 2017 | Revolution Newspaper |


On July 26, President Trump issued the following directive in a series of tweets:

“After consultation with my Generals and military experts, please be advised that the United States Government will not accept or allow transgender individuals to serve in any capacity in the U.S. Military. 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.”

As one writer sharply noted: “Many commentators immediately branded this move a distraction, an attempt to draw attention away from the Russian-conspiracy story, the health care battle, or anything else they deem more important than the president’s declaration that a group of Americans are second-class citizens.” (“Why Autocrats Fear LGBT Rights,” Masha Gessen, The New York Review of Books, July 27, 2017)

In fact, the transgender ban is a deadly serious attack on transgender and really all LGBTQ people. It came on the same day the Trump/Pence regime launched two other major attacks on LGBTQ people.

In an important employment rights lawsuit, the Justice Department under Jeff Sessions filed a brief upholding discrimination against LGBTQ people by making the outrageous claim that Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, which bans sex discrimination, does not protect employees from workplace discrimination based on their sexual orientation.

That same day, the regime nominated Sam Brownback, a notorious Christian fascist and rabid opponent of LGBTQ rights, to head the State Department’s Office of International Religious Freedom.

These are signs and signals of more vicious attacks to come, and of the way that the Trump/Pence regime is responding to difficulties by escalating and accelerating its drive towards the fascist transformation of all of U.S. society.

To be very clear and upfront: The U.S. military is an organization of reactionary violence against the people of the world, including in the U.S., armed enforcers for the empire as it seeks to dominate the entire planet. And in times of crisis and upheaval, it is turned loose on rebellious people in this country.

So NO ONE should join, support, praise, or conciliate with the U.S. military. That is a matter of basic right and wrong.

But Trump’s order banning trans people from the U.S. military is a way for the rulers of the U.S. to brand them as less than human, as “untrustworthy,” as “not full citizens.” And it is bound—and intended—to signal to a rabidly anti-gay section of society that transgender and all LGBTQ people are “fair game” for harassment, assault, and murder.

The poisonous nature of this ban was driven home by former Arkansas governor, Christian fascist, and major Trump supporter Mike Huckabee, who said, “The military is not a social experiment.” Huckabee is implying that transgender people are not human beings—with an assortment of strengths and weaknesses, skills and idiosyncrasies, medical and psychological needs, like every other human—but rather some kind of freaks or alien species to be studied.

LGBTQ people have been subject to demonization, persecution, and murder throughout U.S. history, in large part because their very existence challenges the highly regimented gender roles and patriarchal hierarchy that all existing oppressive systems depend on to cohere society and maintain “social order.”

But this contradiction grows far more acute with the Trump/Pence regime. Major forces in this regime (including VP Mike Pence) are Christian fascists who believe that the Bible should literally be the “law of the land.” After Trump’s election, documented the multi-layered attacks on LGBTQ people that the fascist Trump/Pence regime would bring, because in their worldview, “deviations” from traditional male/female roles are a “stain upon the land” that “turn God against America.” The Bible itself calls for executing homosexuals, and we should not think for a second that these modern-day Christian fascists would stop short of that under certain circumstances.

Trump’s claim that the ban was motivated in part by “the tremendous medical costs and disruption” for transgender people in the military was a lie, but Trump spokesperson Sarah Huckabee Sanders uttered some truth when she said the ban was aimed at strengthening “unit cohesion”—by which she means strengthening unit cohesion around a Christian fascist ideology, an ideology that is openly hostile to LGBTQ people, and strengthening the already-powerful Christian fascist pole in the military.

With all this in mind, it should be no surprise that, according to David Brody, the White House correspondent for the Christian Broadcasting Network, it was exactly these forces who pushed for the ban. Brody tweeted that Trump’s evangelical “faith advisors” “discussed strategy to reverse transgenders in military policy at WH two weeks ago.” And Brody added that “The transgender announcement by @POTUS is more proof that @realDonaldTrump has become a dream come true for conservative evangelicals.”

Yes, and it is also “more proof” of the absolute urgency of mobilizing millions to drive this regime from power, and continuing on to fight for a world where—among other things—people of all genders and sexual orientations are respected and cherished, not demeaned and persecuted.

(For an essential understanding of these Christian fascist forces and why they have come to the forefront in modern U.S. society, see Bob Avakian’s seminal work: “The Truth About Right-Wing Conspiracy... And Why Clinton and the Democrats Are No Answer”)



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