Last week the United States President tweeted a series of incredibly transphobic tweets stating that transgender people are not allowed to serve in the military. He said it’s because “...the tremendous medical costs and disruption that transgender in the military would entail.”
Being a transgender person myself, when I woke up on July 26th and saw the tweets I was infuriated. I felt dehumanized and invalidated by my own country. Honestly, I cried for a few days as I read stories about transgender troops who were still proud to wear their uniforms even after hearing what the President said. The transgender community is resilient like that. We always were and we always will be.
The Williams Institute estimates that there are 134,300 transgender veterans. I was lucky enough to sit down with Audrey Beauregard to talk about the Presidents tweets and to get the perspective from someone who is so connected with the subject. Audrey joined the Navy in 2009, served for 6 years and was honorably discharged in 2015. She achieved the rank of E-5 also known as Petty Officer Second Class. The rating she chose and excelled at was Cryptologic Technician Technical (CTT). When asked what her favorite part of serving our country was she replied “Honestly, learning various skills and experiencing things I'd never get to as a civilian otherwise. But also towards the end of my time in I served in a capacity that protected civilian and military units alike.”
I asked her what her reaction was when she heard about the Presidents tweets. She said: “When I first heard about Trumps tweets, I was concerned for the friends I served with who have since come out and begun their transition. Not all of them wish to undergo surgeries, but many do. My friends are some of the best at what they do and I know they have families and such a ban would both put these families in extreme hardship for the rest of their lives and endanger many other service members as they would no longer have those with the skills watching over them.”
A week and a half after the tweets Audrey says “A few days after the tweets I was approached to lead a march in Denver in support of transgender service members and against Trumps intended ban on transgender troops. Now, a week and a half later, I'm angry. Angry with Trumps intent to discriminate against his own citizens, the very people he serves. Angry with our society, who a large portion of quickly and inanely supported Trumps groundless attempts at banning transgender service members. Scared that, with the tell of history, this will not be the end of Trumps attempts at discrimination; First he will come for the Transgender service members, then the Transgender community, then the rest of the LGBTQIA+, as he has proven with recent legislature to no longer include the umbrella under the protections of The Civil Rights Act.”
Someone asked me “Why would you even want to serve in the military? You should be happy that you don’t have to.” I responded “Because I want the same rights as everyone else. It’s about being treated as an equal citizen and having the right to do what everyone else has the right to do.”
As a community we need to peacefully rise up. I urge all members of the community to refrain from saying hateful and violent things about others and about the President. Why? Because they want us to say hateful and violent things so they can justify vilifying the transgender community. When you are in an oppressed group one bad action from someone in that group affects how people view the entire group. They will say we are all bad. They will use this against us. So please...I urge you to fight, but fight peacefully.
Since the tweets, many generals and admirals spoke out against the proposed “ban.” Still the country was divided, some in support of the President and some in support of transgender people. Will you be on the right side of history?
Audrey Beauregard says “You cannot silence us.”