Gender And Sexuality Column

Politics aside, Trump’s transgender military ban is simply un-American

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Sen. John McCain and Rep. Nancy Pelosi have one thing in common: opposition to President Donald Trump's ban on transgender people serving in the military.

You can’t spell patriotism without the letter “t,” but President Donald Trump sure tried to as he announced his ban against transgender soldiers in the armed forces.

Trump unveiled his decision Wednesday morning in signature Trump fashion — through a tweet. It was immediately met with backlash from politicians on both sides of the aisle, showing that a hit on transgender rights is simply un-American.

Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., a decorated naval aviator and Vietnam War prisoner of war, blasted the president’s decision to bar members of the military on the basis of gender identity.

“There is no reason to force service members who are able to fight, train, and deploy to leave the military — regardless of their gender identity,” McCain said in a statement. “We should all be guided by the principle that any American who wants to serve our country and is able to meet the standards should have the opportunity to do so, and should be treated as the patriots they are.”

On the other side of the political spectrum, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said Trump’s ban is a “cruel and arbitrary decision designed to humiliate transgender Americans who stepped forward to serve our country.”

In New York, Gov. Andrew Cuomo released a statement condemning the president’s actions, as he’s done on several of Trump’s past snap decisions. Cuomo said Trump’s decision was a bitter contrast to former President Harry Truman’s ruling that integrated black soldiers into the armed forces nearly 70 years ago.

“Valor knows no race, no creed, no gender, and no sexual identity, period,” Cuomo said. “No matter who you are, New York will always fight for your rights to live freely and without discrimination. We stand united with the transgender community against those who seek to drive us apart.”

New York has long been viewed as a champion of the transgender community, and Cuomo’s latest statement is no exception. In October 2015, he became the first executive to administer statewide regulations prohibiting discrimination on the basis of “gender identity, transgender status or gender dysphoria.”

Cuomo also responded to Trump’s reversal of the “bathroom bill” by furthering protections for New York students to use the bathroom of their choice, regardless of their biological sex.

The president has consistently walked back on his promises to support the LGBTQ community. From his reversal of former President Barack Obama’s public school bathroom directive in February to his refusal to recognize June as National Pride Month, Trump’s support of LGBTQ Americans starts and stops at the ballot box.

Trump’s stance is a twist of irony coming from the same man who evaded the draft five times and refused to call McCain a war hero because of his POW status. Apparently, Trump never got the memo that money can buy a lot of things, but courage isn’t one of them.

Kelsey Thompson is a junior magazine journalism major. Her column appears biweekly. She can be reached at katho101@syr.edu.

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