People For the American Way

PFAW Joins Coalition of Activists on Capitol Hill to Rally Against the Transgender Military Ban

People For in Action

Trump’s transgender military ban officially went into effect on April 12. Any person serving in the military who comes out as transgender can be discharged. In addition, from this point forward, transgender people can be barred from joining any branch of the service, and the military will no longer pay for most gender confirmation surgeries. To stand in solidarity with the transgender community and fight against this hateful ban, People For the American Way (PFAW) joined a diverse coalition of organizations and activists including Lambda Legal, National Center for Transgender Equality and Human Rights Campaign to rally in front of the U.S. Capitol on April 10.

Harper Jean Tobin from the National Center for Transgender Equality, discussed how this policy was rooted in nothing more than ignorance, as service chiefs in the military have already made clear that they value anyone in service who can do the job, transgender or not. She discussed how, throughout history, when the military has chosen policies of inclusion, the armed forces have grown stronger and functioned more efficiently. Unfortunately, this ban will only weaken the institution by excluding talented soldiers from the force.

Rep. Joe Kennedy, D-Mass., talked about the ongoing struggles of the transgender community and the strength it takes to repeatedly stand up to oppression and attempts at erasure. He assured that crowd that while the fight will be long, he is certain we will eventually win due to the commitment and willpower of the trans community and supportive allies and activists. Similarly, Rep. Anthony Brown, D-Md., stated that he was incredibly angry on behalf of the trans community for having to continue this fight and encouraged the group not to give up.

Sharon McGowan from Lambda Legal stressed that transgender service members make our military stronger, and she pledged to keep fighting until every ban of this nature has been lifted. She discussed some of the lawsuits currently making their way through the courts that could still limit or overturn the ban, indicating that this fight is far from over.

Finally, Charlotte Clymer from Human Rights Campaign, a transgender veteran and well-known LGBTQ activist, gave an emotional account of her experiences in the military carrying the caskets of fallen soldiers at Arlington National Cemetery. She spoke about how she did not know the race, religion, background, or gender identity of anyone that she helped bury, but knew that every single one of them died as brave members of our service. She told this story to stress that identity has nothing to do with the strength and ability of soldiers, and stated that our country has always been made stronger when we set aside prejudices and adopt inclusive policies.