Early Wednesday morning, Donald Trump released a series of tweets that have become a cause for concern for many Americans. Citing the need to focus on "victory," Trump announced The United States Government would no longer allow transgender individuals to serve in the U.S. Military. Trump also claimed that transgender presence in the armed forces would only burden the military with "tremendous medical costs and disruption."
Needless to say, Trump's abrupt decision — made, ostensibly, after consulting unnamed military experts — has sparked rightful outrage and people across the country are speaking out, including servicepeople who are directly impacted by this declaration.
"I was already losing hope that I could commission, now I have absolutely no reason to have any," Riley Dosh, a recent Westpoint graduate told BBC. "It's a final nail in the coffin for my military career... This is an absolute nightmare for my trans brothers and sisters who are serving. They now have absolutely no idea what their future is going to be."
Levo talked to Selisse Berry, the Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Out & Equal Workplace Advocates for more insight on the sweeping impact of this decision and what can be done.
"It's blatant discrimination," says Berry. "We were moving in the right direction and this president is taking us back in terms of basic human rights."
"The fact that the president is tweeting that we should go back on [a previously made decision], to me, is a diversion tactic to keep people from talking about health care and other issues that affect even more people," Berry adds. "This says more about the person tweeting these things than it does about our community."
Just last year, President Barack Obama announced that transgender people would be able to openly serve in the U.S. military. And 2016 RAND Corporation study showed that approximately 2,450 active duty members were transgender as of 2014 — only about 0.1-0.5 percent of this category. Further, the RAND study established that the impact of transgender military personnel was "likely to be small."
"Corporate America [increasingly] understands that diversity is a gift and not something we should shy away from," Berry says, acknowledging the progress that has been made in LGBTQ+ rights in recent years. Berry notes, however, that there is still much work to be done.
In addition to standing strong together, Berry, recommends making calls to legislators and representatives to denounce this decision. "We need to get the word out that diversity is good for the workplace, good for business, good for the military," Berry says.
"We should continue to help educate the general public that these are diversion tactics and are discriminatory," Berry adds. "It doesn't help anyone when we discriminate against a segment of the population — our community deserves equal treatment."
In addition to calling legislators and speaking out, it is important for cisgender allies to create space for the transgender community — active-duty trans members of the military or otherwise — to speak out on this deeply troubling issue, so that can we move forward, together, from this devastating declaration.
(Mark Wilson / Staff for Getty)