Ten months ago when NextGen MilSpouse’s founder Adrianna Domingos-Lupher and I were developing the list of the monthly themes for our online magazine we never imagined how relevant July’s theme “It’s Far From Over” would become.
The theme “It’s Far From Over” follows June’s theme of “We’ve Come So Far” because we know that progress for our LGBTQ brothers and sisters is far from over.
June was a celebration of the movement to end discrimination and embrace inclusion in our military community. We were thrilled to see Pride events held at military installations during the month of June. We had 30 days to think to ourselves. “Damn, look at how far our military community has come.”
But we can’t celebrate our progress.
The fight isn’t over yet. It’s far from over for members of our transgender community.
That truth became evident this week.
“After consultation 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,” President Trump tweeted. “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.”
These 3 tweets that I read before I had my morning coffee caused me to sit up in bed and think to myself, “you’ve got to be fucking kidding me. This can’t be happening. This can’t be happening to our military community.”
Then I reminded myself that a tweet – even 3 tweets from our commander-in-chief – doesn’t change federal policy.
Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Joe Dunford made that clear in his memo to the chiefs of the services and senior enlisted leaders.
“I know there are questions about yesterday’s announcement on the transgender policy by the President,” Dunford wrote in the message, a copy of which was provided to POLITICO. “There will be no modifications to the current policy until the President’s direction has been received by the Secretary of Defense and the Secretary has issued implementation guidance.”
“In the meantime, we will continue to treat all of our personnel with respect. As importantly, given the current fight and the challenges we face, we will all remain focused on accomplishing our assigned missions,” he continued.
Tweets can’t change federal policy – yet.
Here are what Trump’s offensive tweets essentially do:
They are a slap in the face to the more than 15,500 transgender individuals currently serving in the Armed Services – many of whom have been serving openly since October 2016 when the Department of Defense’s policy allowed them to serve openly and authentically. These sailors, Marines, soldiers, airmen and guardsmen learned that their commander-in-chief, the person to whom they swore their allegiance to, doesn’t want them.
They are a message of fear to transgender military spouses and family members.
They are a signal to our military community that this type of discrimination, disrespect and ignorance is tolerated.
Here’s what NextGen MilSpouse has to say in response to Trump’s tweets:
Discrimination never has and never will have a place in our military community.
For everything that POTUS’ tweets do, here is what they can’t do:
Tweets doesn’t change the opinion of our military community members, who openly accept and support our transgender service members, their spouses and children.
Tweets don’t shut us up. They fire us up. They remind us the fight isn’t over.
Oh, and in case you were curious, here’s what we’re fighting:
It isn’t bathrooms.
It isn’t federal funding for surgeries and hormone therapy.
We are fighting for acceptance.
We are fighting for inclusion.
We are fighting for understanding.
This fight is about a willingness to serve – openly, honestly and as you truly are – either as a service member who took the enlistment oath or a military spouse who fell in love with someone who swore to protect our country.
Discrimination has no place in our military community. It never has. It never will.