OK. The Trump trans military ban.
If you know me you of course know two things about me: I used to serve in the military and that I’m some kinda wacky kinda trans that I’m still figuring out (I use they/them pronouns). So I woke up today and I saw the news of what Shitlord-In-Chief said on Twitter (someone needs to tell him that’s not how to enact an executive order) and I had a lot of really complex feelings.
I used to be an activist for queer inclusion in the military. I was kicked out of the Army because of The Gay and lent my voice to repeal Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, to include getting arrested at the White House. I have since come to reconsider that position because frankly, the military is used for heinous shit. Really heinous shit. Shit that I helped contribute to, which I will always work to conscientiously address so that I can be accountable for the death and destabilization my active duty service helped create.
That said, I have a lot of empathy with soldiers. Most of them were broke as hell and didn’t have any options to keep them afloat in our capitalist society; most of them were young and ignorant when they signed their life away (oh lord was that me) and none of them are prepared for the lifetime of PTSD and trauma military service can engender. Recruiters are literal predators that will spend their career tricking poor people into service in order to send them to die and kill to protect the interests of the rich and the white and the privileged.
I know a lot of my fellow radicals are saying “Yes! Good. I wouldn’t want to participate in the imperialist shit show that is the US military anyway.” And I agree to a point. I don’t want anyone to join the military. I want an end to war, militarization, and imperialist global hegemony.
As I have worked towards challenging my own privileges and processing the decolonization of my gender, I know one thing for sure: Words of hatred lead to acts of hatred. Let’s be clear: Trump’s statement was not one founded in financial conservatism; he’s been talking about increasing the military budget, for Chrissake. It’s one founded on a fundamental hatred and distrust of trans people. While I do not want anyone to deal with the aftermath of having served in the military (God I still have nightmares about wearing the wrong uniform to formation), I also do not want trans people who are in the service to be subjected to violence at the hands of their cis peers.
They will. Because of institutional approval of transphobia, cis people will feel empowered to act on their inherent desire to do violence, both physical and emotional, against their trans peers. I’m afraid for them, and I’m afraid for trans people that aren’t in the military who will be victimized because tacit approval has been given for people who engage in acts of hatred. So all in all, no, I don’t think this was a great thing that happened. Frankly, the only thing that would make this situation better is if Trump barred EVERYONE from service.
Some cis people are like, what can I do? I don’t know. Trans people have been telling cis people to listen for ages and ages. I know some things that will help guard your friends from violence.
1. Use the correct names and pronouns at all times. Even the ones you feel weird about (They/them, ze/hir, etc). Misgendering (using the wrong pronouns) and deadnaming (using an old name the person no longer identifies with) are emotional violence. Reread that. Misgendering and deadnaming are emotional violence. Stop doing it. .
2. Force other cis people to do the right thing. This doesn’t mean embarrassing your trans friend by shrieking at someone about their pronouns at the top of your lungs (oh God please don’t do this, we feel weird and unliked enough). Use the correct pronouns and name often. When people don’t use the correct pronouns and name with your trans friend *ALREADY BE PREPARED* to know how to correct that cis person in a way that makes your friend comfortable. This requires that you have that conversation with your trans friend about how to best support them when they are being disrespected. So get on that.
3. Obviously fight the institutional powers that perpetuate transphobia however you can and to the best of your ability. I don’t know. Sign a petition, go to a protest, write lengthy diatribes on your wordpress site, whatever. I honestly don’t care what you do. But show up somehow.
4. Buy a trans person lunch. No really. When shitty news like this comes out that makes trans people feel like “lesser than” people it can hurt their feelings. And you know what they need? Lunch. Dinner? A cocktail? Help with a bill? Yeah. Literally toss a few bucks into helping a specific trans person you know. If you have no money, offer a service. It will make them feel a little better and you will be doing something material to help them feel supported. While you’re doing it? Let them vent. Listen. Learn.
5. Create the conditions necessary to an end to war and militarization. That was a simple sentence with endless complexity. If we work to create ways to curtail the power of the military industrial complex there won’t need to be a discussion of whether queer and trans people can be in the military. No need. No, I don’t have all the answers for step 5 because it’s a lot of work but it’s work worth exploring.
Anyways, I just wanna say to my trans lovelies that you are not a financial, emotional, or societal burden. You are fantastic, magical people who don’t deserve how cis society treats you. I love you and I’m glad to have you surrounding me.
To my cis friends: Many of you are doing great.
You all have to do better.