While we are concerned for the well-being of trans individuals currently serving in the military, we are skeptical of the “outrage,” calls for protest, and fundraising appeals we are seeing from LGBT folks and their allies. Many of those coming out the loudest against the ban on trans military service have been silent as trans folks across the country continue to be killed, as they continue to suffer harassment and violence at the hands of police, and as they continue to be denied housing, jobs, healthcare, respect, and dignity.
We’ve been in the streets showing up for trans folks. Where have you been? What have you been doing?
We are deeply skeptical of the degree to which criticisms of the ban on trans military service ignore the grave injustices carried out by the U.S. military and the military industrial complex. It is possible — and necessary — to criticize policies that single out and attack trans individuals while refusing to endorse, support, or celebrate the U.S. military. Pandering to dangerous sentiments of nationalism and patriotism is no way to garner respect and dignity for trans folks. We will not allow the trans community to be leveraged to support U.S. militarism and imperialism.
We reject the the idea that trans military service should be a priority for the movement for trans liberation. As other trans activists and scholars have pointed out, advocacy around military service only became visible after wealthy billionaire donors, “dedicated to celebrating the US military” put their money behind it. For trans individuals, the right to housing, jobs, food, healthcare, education, and safety should not be contingent on putting one’s life on the line in service of the U.S. war machine.