President Donald Trump announced in a series of tweets on Wednesday that he will enforce a ban on transgender individuals from serving "in any capacity" in the U.S. military, according to CNN. Aside from pushing back years of progress toward inclusive policies and replacing them with one of discrimination, this move could also put many people out of jobs and could severely affect their livelihoods. While this decision has undoubtedly shocked the nation and the thousands of active troops, there are a lot ways we can help transgender people in the military.
Early Wednesday morning, Trump wrote on Twitter that, after consulting "with my Generals and military experts please be advised that the United States Government will not accept or allow transgender individuals to serve in any capacity in the U.S. Military."
He continued, "Our military must be focused on decisive and overwhelming victory and cannot be burdened with the tremendous medical costs and disruption that transgender in the military would entail. Thank you."
Almost instantly, tweets came pouring in to express their outrage with Trump's decision. One person called it "horrifically un-American," while another said the president is using his "position and platform to oppress and shame."
Aside from general outrage, this policy is even more backwards when you consider some statistics: According to the National LGBTQ Task Force, a recent study showed that 20 percent of transgender people have served in the military — double the percentage of the general American population that has served in the armed forces.
Additionally, although there aren't exact figures and data out there — which is likely because the U.S. Census Bureau doesn't collect data on gender identity — the U.S. military may very well be the country's largest employer of transgender people, Heat Street reported in 2016. As Priceonomics put it:
For all its perceived conservatism and raging heteronormativity, the United States Armed Forces is almost certainly the largest employer of transgender people in this country.
According to The Human Rights Campaign, there are currently 15,000 active serving transgender troops and the ban only "harms military readiness and puts lives at risk."
Because so much is at risk — not only for transgender service members, but for the entire nation — here are just a few things you can do to help.
Call The White House
First things first: Call the White House directly and express your concerns about the ban and any other issues you have with Trump's administration.
To leave your comments with a White House operator, call 202-456-1111. Or dial 202-456-1414 to be connected to the switchboard. Press them with your questions and let your voice be heard.
Start Or Sign A Petition
Call on the White House and Trump himself to address this issue by starting a petition. If you're able to get 100,000 signatures in 30 days, you're entitled to an official update from the White House within 60 days.
With an issue like this that affects such a large community and impacts the nation as a whole, signatures will add up in no time.
Or, simply sign this one, which demands the ban be reversed.
Make A Donation
In the coming days and months, transgender advocacy organizations are going to putting in extra overtime. You can show your support for the cause by making a donation to one (or more) of the dozens of non-profits groups out there. Here's a sampling of who's doing this priceless work:
- The Trevor Project: Focuses on suicide prevention efforts among lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and questioning youth.
- National LGBTQ Task Force: Founded in 1973, this grassroots group supports action and activism about issues such as housing, employment, healthcare, retirement, and basic human rights.
- GLAAD: This group tackles the media aspect of the fight and "tackles tough issues to shape the narrative and provoke dialogue that leads to cultural change," according to the site's website.
- National Center For Transgender Equality: This is the nation's leading social justice advocacy organization, focusing on policy change to advance transgender equality.
Even if you're strapped for cash, you can still help these organizations. Go to their events, post about them on social media, and share their posts with your followers — some of whom may be inclined to make a donation. If nothing else, you're making others aware of these advocacy groups.
Show Your Support
Letting the White House and Trump know you are not OK with his administration's policy is one way to help. But showing your support to the transgender community can come in a variety of ways.
For example, head over to a protest (many will likely spring up in the coming days), spark up a conversation with a transgender service member and listen to their concerns, or take the time to educate yourself on the issues they face each day and in uniform. Essentially, find ways you can be their ally.
Trump's divisive and discriminatory policies have already done a lot of harm and caused an uproar on several occasions. And the nation's impassioned efforts to shut them down can't afford to stop now and transgender people in the military deserve our country's support.