Retired Sergeant Shane Ortega, the first openly trans soldier to serve in the U.S. Army, is “very fucking worried.” In a piece penned for Rolling Stone, the two-spirit activist expressed grave concerns for the far-reaching implications of Trump’s intended ban on transgender military members.
“If you can enforce a discriminatory ban against what America likes to idealize as the pinnacle of being an American, what does that mean for the regular Joe?” he wrote.
Trump’s tweets announcing the intended ban effectively labeled trans people a “disruption” and a “burden”—dehumanizing, invalidating descriptors.
Trump has not yet provided any data to corroborate his claim that “tremendous medical costs” would disrupt the US’s armed forces. Meanwhile, reports have pointed out that the US military spends roughly $41.6 million each year on Viagra alone – approximately five times the amount it would reportedly spend on transition-related medical care for transgender service members.
Ortega, who has served three combat tours pondered: Who gets to decide if someone is a valid human being? “Right now, we’re seeing that Donald Trump gets to decide,” he concluded.
For the trans Latinx and POC community, the ramifications of those comments against the backdrop of his staunchly white cis heteronormative regime are doubly dangerous.
The National Transgender Discrimination Survey conducted by the National LGBTQ Task Force reported that 63 percent of respondents had experienced “a serious act of discrimination” that affects their quality of life, be it financially or emotionally. About 23 percent of those acts were life-altering to a catastrophic degree.
Hate crimes against non-whites are more likely across the board—and in the LGBTQ community, POC comprise more than half of the survivors, and about 24 percent of undocumented trans people have experienced physical attacks.
Last year was the deadliest year on record for transgender people, surpassing 2015 numbers with a devastating 27 murders. But 2017 looks to be worse already—and all 15 of the victims have been transgender women of color.
The effects of Trump’s racist regime have already been tracked in terms of hate groups. Unsurprisingly, the numbers increased in 2016.
The Joint Chiefs’ have refused to change their policy on transgender service members until it goes through the proper channels, making it unclear what will happen next. But what is clear is that trans Latinx and POC are already in a precarious place, and Trump just green lit the intensification of transphobia, the same way he’s bolstered racism and white supremacy.