Another day, another set of tweets from Donald Trump. This time the President of America has made a ruling about trans people serving in the military. Namely, they now can’t. Despite the fact thousands already are.
In an announcement on the social networking site, the former businessman said trans people would not be allowed to serve “in any capacity” as the military must be focussed on “decisive and over-whelming victory” – not “tremendous medical costs and disruption.”
It’s a massive blow for trans rights in the country, especially considering the Pentagon had promised to end the ban back in January last year. It’s not even as if there aren’t trans people serving already. Captain Jennifer Peace, an intelligence officer based in Seattle, is just one example.
Despite having already begun her transition, and legally changing her name, both she are her soldiers will be reprimanded if they do not address her as ‘Sir’. She must also cut her hair to the short standards set for men, as opposed to those for women. She is just one of an estimated 15,000 trans people serving in the US forces, forced to either stay hidden or be treated as the wrong gender.
A Culture of Acceptance and Diversity
Video Credit: Royal Navy
It categorically doesn’t have to be this way though. Here in the UK all members of the LGBT+ spectrum are welcomed into joining the Armed Forces. Proud 2 Serve is just one organisation actively working with the wider community to help make gay and trans people feel at home in the forces, as well as encourage a more diverse pool of people to apply.
It’s part of our human rights to not be discriminated against, something which is protected by the Human Rights Convention. The British Armed Forces have allowed lesbian, gay and bisexual people to serve since 2006 because of a landmark ruling from the Human Rights Court. While the case didn’t specifically mention trans rights, it sets a precedent that any attempt to ban trans people from serving would almost certainly breach our human rights.
The 2010 Equality Act also gives further legal protection for personnel who fall into a series of nine “protected characteristics.” This basically means you cannot be disadvantaged or discriminated against for because of your age, disability, gender reassignment, marriage or civil partnership, pregnancy and maternity, race, religion or belief, sex or your sexual orientation.
This covers all the armed forces, from the Army to the Royal Air Force. Unsurprisingly, the world hasn’t fallen apart yet, but we have seen some amazing role models. Take Hannah Winterbourne for example, the highest ranking trans officer in the UK. She’s now second in command of a company of almost 100 soldiers, as well as being the transgender officer for the British Army, advising on best practice on education and welfare for trans officers.
Video Credit: All About Trans
She’s also supported by Private Melanie Scott, who was at one point the youngest serving officer in the Army. She also happens to be trans. Both woman say the forces have been nothing but supportive about their identities, but crucially they aren’t defined by it. Instead, their only limit is their abilities. Which is what it’s all about really, don’t you think?
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Featured Image Credit: Gage Skidmore / Flickr
EDITOR’S NOTE: Article amended on 2 July 2019 to rectify the omission of “sex” as a protected characteristic under 2010 Equalities Act.