Transfolk are Now Banned from the Military

As of today, President Trump has signed an order banning transgender folks from the military.

What’s next for people like me? Banning us from bathrooms, restaurants, grocery stores, and hospitals? Where will it stop? And which group is next on the list?

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First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Socialist.

Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Trade Unionist.

Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Jew.

Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.

~Martin Niemoller

Transgender, the Military, and Ignorant Donald Trump…

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I’m usually quiet on matters of transgender people, even though I am one. I like to work one-on-one, by being a decent human being and caring person. I also want to be seen as a multi-dimensional person.

But I cannot stay silent on President Trump’s latest declaration that transgender people are unfit to serve. This from a draft dodger who took five deferments to avoid Vietnam.  His final draft status: 4-F (Unfit to Serve).  My final draft status for Vietnam: 1-A (Active / Fit to Serve). The irony is delicious.

  1. Donald Trump is wrong about transgender in the military. Just like in the 40’s when arguments against blacks being integrated hurt unit cohesion. Just like in the 80’s and 90’s when arguments about women in combat zones would hurt unit cohesion. Just like in the 90’s and 00’s when arguments against gays would hurt unit cohesion. These are the arguments of fear mongers, racists, misogynists, homophobes, and idiots. There is no data to support their claims. It is old identity politics. It’s stupid, asinine, and fear based on ignorance. America should be better than this.Gays, women, people of color, transgender folk have always served in the US military. They just couldn’t be open about it. But they’ve always been there, for as long as there has been a United States of America.

2. Medical costs on transgender are not “tremendous”, despite Donald Trump’s claims. Medical treatment for trans folk is not cheap, but, it is, in fact, cheaper than going to the ER for multiple complex fractures and injuries from a car accident; far cheaper than treating cancer; and slightly more expensive than gallbladder removal or a hysterectomy.   The one-time costs on surgery range anywhere from $17,000 to $85,000 depending on the surgeon and the location. Hormones are relatively inexpensive, depending upon the method: pill, patch, or injection. Electrolysis / laser hair removal is $100-$200 per hour and usually comes out of trans person’s own pocket.

Other surgeries, such as plastic surgery, are also deemed by insurance companies as optional, so that comes out of our own pockets as well. Ongoing medical costs are typical, as you would normally expect, for any average American woman or man in the long term.

3. As Barry Goldwater once said, “”you don’t need to be ‘straight’ to fight and die for your country. You just need to shoot straight.

4. If anyone is unfit to serve, it is you, Donald Trump. And you prove it every time you open your mouth.

5. You attacked me, my patriotism, my loyalty, and my humanity. Surely you don’t expect me to roll over and play dead now?

6. I’m now in the “great game”. You’ve pissed me off. And millions of decent Americans are not going to put up with this chit.

I will fight because I’ve had to for the past 20 years to exist. I don’t want to fight. But I will. I, and people like me, have a right to live in peace and not be harassed by ignorant phucks like you, Donald Trump.

Go to hell.

 

Bathroom Bills and Your Right to Wee, According to Your Gender Identity(ee)

Bathroom bills are on the march across the United States.  Most of the states pursuing these “bathroom bills” are based in the South or Midwest of the country.  However, they may not be exclusive to these areas.  Either way, it is very disconcerting.

The gist of the “bathroom bills” is a ploy to allow discrimination against LGBTIQ based upon an exercise of “religious freedom”, “privacy issues”, and imaginary “safety issues”.  Most are sponsored by organizations that are virulently intolerant of anyone who is perceived as “not straight.”  Religion might be in their name, but it is historical patriarchal mechanisms which they are really supporting.  Thus, it is a structure that cannot tolerate any threat to loss of power or influence at it’s core.  This structure must constantly renew itself through immersion of people (aka students) into its values.  One way to do that is to engender fear and suspicion in the community (aka school) of anyone who is different.

This brings us to the issue of lawsuits and bathroom use for transfolk who are school-aged students, especially for middle and high school.  It brings up issues of support, rights, and safety, not only for the trans student, but for all students of every stripe, color, creed, race, gender, and orientation by restricting a student due to a trait or feature about said student(s).  Hence, it can be the beginning of a long and winding road of discrimination of class(es) of people.

One particular lawsuit in Virginia is winding its way to a possible Supreme Court showdown.  It is one in which there is a strong likelihood that the suit will be returned to the states due to the new Trump administration and their penchant for “traditional values”.

I don’t want to be a wet-noodle or a Debby Downer, but the efforts to secure a right to use the bathroom matching one’s gender identity is about to go on pause for a while in some states, and that would likely include Virginia.

I’m an old transwoman of over 20 years. I also counsel as an MFT those who are closeted or keeping secrets, or in an inquiry into their identity. These are not easy things to address.

Suing in federal court to identify a “right” to not be discriminated due to gender identity has moved forward by linking such suits to Title IX clauses prohibiting sex discrimination.  This linkage is thanks to the Obama administration creating rules with executive orders which altered the interpretation of sex to include gender identity.  A very logical and appropriate development, in my view.   But, forgive the pun, this area of law is still quite fluid. 

However, with this new Trump administration I believe it is extremely likely that these rules will be removed. In that case, pursuing nondiscrimination based upon gender identity does not necessarily have federal backing. And that means these battles against discrimination will return to the state level.

A law professor of mine once said, regarding suing for discrimination, that if you file suit, you better win. Because if you don’t win, you’ll not only be hurting yourself, but the entire class of people just like you.

Tread carefully. Work with the school districts to avoid going to court unless it is absolutely necessary. Consider accepting a compromise that does not demean, shame, or invoke suffering, especially if the motive of the school district is really about doing their best to protect and respect the trans student, as well as deal with other parents who act out of fears, not facts. Most of all stay safe.

Or as my father used to tell me, “It might be YOUR right. But don’t be DEAD right.” Good advice.

20 years ago when I came out, facing myself, and facing others, I made compromises in order to survive. There were no laws protecting Transfolk from any kind of discrimination.  In order to allay others’ fears. In order to keep my job. In order to have a place to live.  And in time people came around and wondered what all the fuss was about. I don’t want any of us to go back in time. But I don’t want anyone hurt, injured or killed either.

Lastly, do not take this as surrender or appeasement.  One must pick their battles while also maintaining their ability to function in the greater society.  It is sometimes a long and slow trudging process.  Moving forward is often done in small steps, through being real and allowing people to know you, and you getting your message out there in how you live your life, and how you speak about your life.

The Spectacle of Bad Faith in Matters of Equality

What is “bad faith” in matters of equality [and stereotypes]

 “…it is only necessary to act in the customary, ordinary, usual, even polite manner. Nonetheless, I doubt that any of us who does so is totally without the knowledge that something is wrong.

  • To slide into decisions without allowing oneself to realize that one is making any;
  • to feel dimly that one is enjoying advantages without trying to become clearly aware of what those advantages are (and who hasn’t got them); 
  • to accept mystifications because they’re customary and comfortable; 
  • cooking one’s mental books to congratulate oneself on traditional behavior as if it were actively moral behavior;
  • to know that one doesn’t know; to prefer not to know;
  • to defend one’s status as already knowing with half-sincere, half-selfish passion as “objectivity” –

This great, fuzzy area of human ingenuity is what Jean Paul Sartre calls “bad faith.” When spelled out the techniques use to maintain bad faith look morally atrocious and appallingly silly. That is because they are morally atrocious and appallingly silly. But this only shows when one spells them out, i.e., becomes aware of them. Hence this one effort among many to do just that.”

Russ, J. (1984) How to Suppress Women’s Writing, London: The Women’s Press.

Call Her Captain Katie

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She breaks sound and gender barriers as the first female pilot in the Navy’s Blue Angels!

“I saw the Blue Angels fly when I was a young kid,” Marine Corps Capt. Katie Higgins said. “I was definitely inspired by that.”

Higgins is a third-generation military aviator and the first female pilot in the team’s 69-year history.

“My dad was an A-7 pilot initially, and then he transferred to the F-18 Hornet, which is actually out here on the line,” Higgins said. “It’s a great family legacy to have, that’s for sure.”

Now, she’s providing the inspiration.

“I think by including a lady on the team, that just shows little girls and guys that women can do whatever they put their mind to,” Higgins said. “Little girls have told me that they didn’t even know that ladies could fly aircraft, that women could be in the cockpit.”

They’ve been in American military cockpits for more than 20 years, but it’s taken this long for a woman to become part of the Blue Angels team.

“We do a very thorough interview where they get to know each one of us and find the right person for the team next year, and so it just so happened that they haven’t had a female pilot that has fit quite perfectly,” Higgins said.

Capt. Tom Frosch is the commander of the Blue Angels and said, “it’s not that we weren’t ready, we were just looking for the right person.”

He was one of 17 officers that voted Higgins onto the team and said they haven’t had any challenges integrating a female pilot into the unit.

“Any female can fly any aircraft in our inventory,” he said.

For more about Captain Katie Higgins, see the article on the CBS News website:

http://www.cbsnews.com/news/blue-angels-first-female-pilot-takes-to-sky/