58% of Americans Support Transgender Military Service

By TMPlanet

According to a recent poll by Reuters ¹;  A majority of Americans believe that transgender individuals should be allowed to serve in the military.

The  poll conducted between July 26-28 suggested that the country largely disagrees with Donald Trump’s announcement this week², that he will ban transgender personnel from the armed forces.

When asked to weigh in on the debate, 58 percent of adults agreed with the statement,

“Transgender people should be allowed to serve in the military³.” Twenty-seven percent said they should not while the rest answered “don’t know.”

Democrats mostly supported military service by transgender Americans while Republicans were divided on the issue.

Among Republicans, 32 percent said transgender people should be allowed to serve, while 49 percent said they should not. Another 19 percent of Republicans said they don’t know.

Poll Conducted by Rueters

The public was also divided over the impact of banning transgender service members. Some 32 percent said it would “hurt morale” in the military while 17 percent said it would “improve morale.” Another 33 percent felt it would “have no impact” and the rest said they don’t know.

When asked about the impact on military capabilities, 14 percent said prohibiting transgender service members made the military “more capable” while 43 percent said “no impact,” 22 percent said “less capable” and the rest said they don’t know.

The president’s announcement, made in posts on his Twitter account, surprised many senior military officers and appeared to pre-empt an ongoing Pentagon review into its inclusion of transgender service members.

The United States’ top military officer, Marine Corps General Joseph Dunford, said the military will not alter its current policies until it receives additional guidance from Trump’s secretary of defense.

Roger Kaikko, 61, a Trump voter near Cleveland, Ohio, who took the poll, said he disagrees with the president.

“Even the president shouldn’t be able to take rights away from some people just because he may not like them,” Kaikko said. “They’re people too. Unless they’re causing problems, they should serve just like anybody else.”

Opinions about the ban probably will not have lasting impact on the president’s believe anything, devout followers.

Jan Leighley, an expert in political behavior at American University said, “For many people, this is just a distant political issue. When compared to healthcare, immigration or the economy, the president’s stance on transgender issues “is not something that’s going to change their prior beliefs or attitudes” about Trump.

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  1.  The Reuters/Ipsos opinion poll was conducted online in English across the United States. It gathered responses from 1,249 adults including 533 Democrats and 434 Republicans. It has a credibility interval, a measure of accuracy, of 3 percentage points for the entire group and 5 percentage points for Democrats and Republicans.
  2. #Notmypresident,

    President Donald Trump announced he was banning transgender people from serving in the military in a series of tweets Wednesday, July 26, 2017. (Images via Twitter)
  3. A 2014 study estimated that 15,500 trans people were currently serving in the U.S. military. The Williams Institute, a think tank at UCLA School of Law that researches gender identity, came to that figure using a 2011 survey of 6,546 transgender Americans. Around 20 percent of that survey’s respondents said they had served in the armed forces. There are currently 1.3 million active-duty personnel in the U.S. military and an additional 800,000 in reserves.
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The Dominionist Collapse: When Transpeople Face Theocracy

Lynnea Urania Stuart

 

It’s reactive and reductive, embraced by braggart and bigot; and it’s running away with the standard of Conservatism.  Its survival depends upon innuendo more than logic despite the fact that some highly educated people work from the heart of the movement.  Dominionism burst upon Congress in the likes of people like Michelle Bachmann, Rick Santorum, Ted Cruz, and Mike Huckabee.  But the movement that’s Dominionism cannot last, threatening an intellectual collapse that could drag America and the world into a new Dark Age, attacking transpeople every step along the way.  It will collapse because logic will eventually overrule innuendo and propaganda while the masses turn against Dominionism in growing disgust and the environmental collapse of the planet awakens them to the folly of its religio-political policies.

 

ABOUT DOMINIONISM

Christianity brought Dominionism to the world through the likes of Constantine and Theodosius, the latter of whom cosigned the Edict of Rome on August 6, 390 CE which declared “male effeminacy” a capital crime punishable by burning.  The Edict became part of the Corpus Juris Civilis while driving underground transpeople who had previously enjoyed a respected, even priestly status for centuries.  Dominionist rulers opened the floodgates of what would become a more generalized Abrahamic Oppression of transpeople against which we struggle today.1

Dominionism may be defined as the political doctrine that religion, most particularly the most prominent denomination or alliance in a region, must control the reins of political power and government control in order to assure the goodness of society.  This means integration of church and state.  In this respect Dominionism follows the Post-Millennialism of Augustine in The City of God despite the fact that most of today’s Dominionists are Pre-Millennial instead, some of which make informal tests of fellowship out of Pre-Tribulation and Post-Tribulation in eschatological teachings.2

In the United States, Dominionism has largely taken the form of the Evangelical Alliance that has included Conservative branches of Baptists, Pentecostals, Charismatics, Campbellists, Lutherans, Presbyterians, and other denominations in cooperation with Roman Catholics, and to some extent, Messianic, Conservative and Orthodox Jews.  This alliance has established the popular stigma of the “cult”, most particularly against Jehovah’s Witnesses, Mormons, Christian Scientists, the now defunct Worldwide Church of God of Herbert W. Armstrong, and to some extent, the Seventh-Day Adventists.  However, they have not clearly defined what a cult should be outside their own accepted concept of orthodoxy.  In terms of an actual modus operandi, the Evangelical Alliance often displays much of the cultic abhorrence they criticize, carrying the traits of exclusiveness and enforcement to the political arena.  Beginning with the work of Rev. Jerry Fallwell and the Moral Majority in the 1980 presidential election, Dominionists have worked to seize control of the Republican Party, and consequently, the United States.3

 

HR 2796

Republicans produced a decidedly anti-transgender platform in its 2016 Platform.  It reads:

 

“We emphatically support the original, authentic meaning of Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972. It affirmed that “no person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance.” That language opened up for girls and women a world of opportunities that had too often been denied to them. That same provision of law is now being used by bureaucrats — and by the current President of the United States — to impose a social and cultural revolution upon the American people by wrongly redefining sex discrimination to include sexual orientation or other categories. Their [sic] agenda has nothing to do with individual rights; it has everything to do with power. They [sic] are determined to reshape our schools — and our entire society — to fit the mold of an ideology alien to America’s history and traditions. Their [sic] edict to the states concerning restrooms, locker rooms, and other facilities is at once illegal, dangerous, and ignores privacy issues. We salute the several states which have filed suit against it.4

 

After the GOP won continued control of both houses of Congress and the White House, the GOP now seeks to execute this platform in legislation.  On June 7, 2017, the GOP introduced HR 2796, also titled the Civil Rights Uniformity Act.  The act explicitly seeks to strip a broad spectrum of civil rights protections for transpeople:

 

SEC. 3. Prohibition of policies redefining sex to mean gender identity.

(a) Rule of Construction.—In determining the meaning of any Federal civil rights law, and of any related ruling, regulation, guidance, or interpretation of the various administrative bureaus and agencies of the United States, the words “sex” and “gender” and their equivalents shall not be interpreted to mean “gender identity” or its equivalent, and the words “man” and “woman” and their equivalents shall refer exclusively to a person’s genetic sex.

(b) Rule of Interpretation.—No Federal civil rights law shall be interpreted to treat gender identity or transgender status as a protected class, unless such law expressly designates “gender identity” or “transgender status” as a protected class.

(c) Definition of “Federal civil rights law”.—For purposes of this Act, the term “Federal civil rights law” means any Federal law prohibiting discrimination on the basis of sex or gender, including title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 (20 U.S.C. 1681 et seq.), the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (42 U.S.C. 2000a et seq.), the Fair Housing Act (42 U.S.C. 3601 et seq.), the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (Public Law 111–148), and any other Federal law or provision thereof prohibiting discrimination on the basis of sex or gender.5

 

The bill, problematic enough in its definition of sex and gender on the basis of “genetic sex,” went to the House Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution and Civil Justice on July 12.  Whether the subcommittee thinks through the illogic of presumptive “genetic sex” remains to be seen.  But the bill opens up an entirely new discussion between legalities and ethics.

 

ETHICAL REALITIES AND LEGALITY

Anyone who has taken a college class on Ethics has probably faced a common faux pas: one cannot generally debate ethical points using legal precedents.   What’s ethical often differs from what’s legal.  That can include medical decisions directly affecting transpeople.

We as transpeople typically assert a fundamental right to transition, detransition, and even to re-transition provided that actions do not inflict harm or otherwise violate the rights of others.  Medical ethics, however, are necessarily more guarded than this precisely because they follow a Consequentialist, but not Utilitarian approach.6 Consequentialism proposes that favorable outcomes determine right action.  But Consequentialism faces a fundamental challenge in terms of the Remote Effects Problem: that we cannot know a priori that immediate results will translate into good results on the long term.7 When it comes to the willingness of practitioners to treat transpeople with a therapy involving transition, we’re often perceived with a large question mark amid a general nervousness about malpractice claims.  Not all who transition do so successfully and long term studies concerning outcomes continue today to address Remote Effects.  These studies continue as sources for vigorous debate.

 The ethics of Dominionism, however, decidedly follows the Divine Command Theory of MoralityDivine Command asserts that right action follows what God has ordained in holy writ.  But what holy writ means calls upon the interpretations of religious leaders despite the biblical claim that scripture (or at lease prophecy) is not a matter of private human interpretation.8  It’s inevitable that interpretation falls back onto religious leaders because only prophets claim to have direct communications from God and no prophet has full acceptance in every communion.  We see disagreements in interpretation through every religious debate in which both sides in an argument refuse to budge from preconceived doctrines and dogma.  We see those disagreements manifest in the massive schisms in Christianity since before the Reformation.  When addressing trans acceptance, Christians are divided.  Some read the Bible and find a basis for acceptance.  Others read the Bible and reject us as an “abomination”, often couching their rejection with the disingenuous claim of “loving the sinner but not the sin.”  No real position exists concerning transpeople apart from these factions because those who “don’t know” have taken no position at all.  But the broad disparities in the positions of scholars among the denominations automatically render legislation on the basis of Divine Command necessarily imprecise, divisive and consequently unstable.

They’re unstable because Law demands a formulation of decisions upon precise definitions and relations as to what may be permitted through codification and enforcement.  When pertaining to transpeople and their collective diversity, definitions often fail.  Nobody has ever defined “transgender” once and for all.  That definition has shifted widely since first appearing in the 1970’s.  For that matter, our presence has opened up vigorous debate in terms of defining maleness or femaleness.  It’s confusing to many because America has relied upon religious tradition, not medical realities, to define a rigid gender dichotomy while excluding all others possibilities.  Consequently, Dominionists perceive transpeople as disrupters of the social order.

 

GENDER DYSPHORIA AND LEGAL RECOGNITION

Some transpeople who oppose medical gatekeeping have vigorously challenged the authority of medical and psychiatric practitioners.  Instead, transition’s sometimes regarded as something automatically owed by right.  Some have gone as far to say that gender dysphoria is “self-diagnosed.”  There’s a reason that view of “self-diagnosis” is wrong.

It’s wrong because a diagnosis is a medical or psychiatric determination based upon collectively established criteria, carrying legal ramifications.  Only a medical or psychiatric professional can diagnose.  “Self diagnosis” is nothing more than a suspicion till supported by a qualified third party.

For example, this past winter I suspected retinal damage after a fall because I persistently saw flashing arcs of light that consistently followed specific eye movements.  My suspicion proved to be correct when an ophthalmologist diagnosed a horseshoe tear in my retina and immediately referred me to eye surgery.  The ophthalmologist diagnosed on the basis of observation and established medical criteria.  I didn’t make that diagnosis.  I only suspected something to be true.

The same applies to professionals who write letters recommending transition.  Anyone can sense gender dysphoria because of various experiences in one’s own mental, emotional, and sociological disposition.  But a diagnosis demands more than subjective belief.  Gender dysphoria, like other conditions, must be determined upon clinical criteria.  It’s why certain states require a treating physician to sign an affidavit for change of the gender marker on a driver’s license.  It’s why an endocrinologist writes a recommendation for gender confirmation surgery.  That physician’s signature has legal ramifications more relied upon than the patient’s.  I might believe that deep inside I’m one gender or another and my belief may be correct.  But legal criteria require confirmation by a third party deemed expert enough to testify to one’s condition as fact. While, morally speaking, one may have the right to transition, securing legal recognition also matters.

It’s one reason why the Standards of Care and the Guidelines for Psychological Practice are important, provided through the World Professional Association for Transgender Health (WPATH) and the American Psychological Association respectively.

 

RELIGIOUS BELIEF AND LEGAL RECOGNITION

What many religious people don’t realize is that a sincerely held religious belief can also lack legal recognition unless that belief is sanctioned by others, preferably by an established religious institution; much in the same way as a belief of having gender dysphoria needs verification through a professional diagnosis.

Think about that for a moment.

Consider, for example, the Vietnam War when 18-year old males were drafted for combat in the 1960’s and early 1970’s.  Some draftees were devout Jehovah’s Witnesses and Seventh-Day Adventists; conscientious objectors about killing for a human government (the former) and combat on Sabbath (the latter).  Adventist conscientious objectors were often admitted to a Medical Corps, though this provision was abandoned with the close of the Vietnam War.9

Of course, anyone could claim to be a conscientious objector in an attempt to get out of participation in maneuvers or out of cowardice.  Third party verification was required for accommodation.  Just making a statement would not suffice.  Military authorities look suspiciously upon anyone claiming in the middle of a term of service to have converted if it means getting out of an assignment.  Stories abound in Adventist circles about incarceration of conscientious objectors during the Vietnam Era who had been rescued by the church’s military liaison.10

Third party verification also is typically demanded by an employer who must make accommodations for religious practice whenever they come into conflict so long as accommodation does not pose an undue hardship upon the business.  The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission issued guidelines for this:

 

“When an employer requests additional information, employees should provide information that addresses the employer’s reasonable doubts.  That information need not, however, take any specific form.  For example, written materials or the employee’s own first-hand explanation may be sufficient to alleviate the employer’s doubts about the sincerity or religious nature of the employee’s professed belief such that third-party verification is unnecessary.  Further, since idiosyncratic beliefs can be sincerely held and religious, even when third-party verification is needed, it does not have to come from a church official or member, but rather could be provided by others who are aware of the employee’s religious practice or belief.[128]

“An employee who fails to cooperate with an employer’s reasonable request for verification of the sincerity or religious nature of a professed belief risks losing any subsequent claim that the employer improperly denied an accommodation.  By the same token, employers who unreasonably request unnecessary or excessive corroborating evidence risk being held liable for denying a reasonable accommodation request, and having their actions challenged as retaliatory or as part of a pattern of harassment.

“It also is important to remember that even if an employer concludes that an individual’s professed belief is sincerely held and religious, it is only required to grant those requests for accommodation that do not pose an undue hardship on the conduct of its business”11

 

THE TIDE OF LIMITATIONS

Religious liberty, however, isn’t absolute.  A parent in Christian Science would be prosecuted for denying his child medical care if it’s clear that treatment could have saved the child’s life.  Honor killings, today most common among Muslims aren’t exonerated in American courts.  Neither can any church carry out the kinds of pogroms against people of other faiths like what Orthodox Christians have perpetrated against Jews for centuries.  Forced conversions, a feature of Christianity throughout its bloody history, won’t be backed by law… yet.

In the case of employers, the issue of proselytizing in the workplace has been addressed by the EEOC in terms of hardship upon a business.  What’s lacking are the rights of employees to be free from being compelled to convert to a religion as a result of an employer sanctioning a campaign of proselytizing as in cases of religiously operated educational institutions that appear from time to time.  Neither have churches done much to make freedom from proselytizing a matter of accommodation because the churches prefer to fight proselytizing by equipping their own members for religious debate.  But internal conflicts resulting from proselytizing can force businesses to either forbid them through hardship claims, or to terminate employees on the basis of religion, the latter being preferred by many Conservative religious bodies.

Let’s say that the current trend for Dominionist control of government continues to the point in which no legal recourse for those outside the Evangelical Alliance can exist.  It’s a condition of American becoming a fully theocratic state.  Forced conversions often happen in such a milieu.  Some, like the Seventh-Day Adventists, have believed for over a century that this version of Christo-Fascism is inevitable, even established in prophecy.12

 

A LOGICAL CONUNDRUM

Transpeople, many of whom are either Atheist or representing religious minorities outside the Evangelical Alliance, can find a special role to play in such an unfolding drama.  The need for 3rd party verification for liberty claims by religionist and transperson should be more or less on par with each other as exists today.  But if religion demands forced conversions, these 3rd party verifications could be challenged for religious claimants in a way transgender claimants cannot.

A milieu of duress logically demands that we question the validity of claims of having freely made decisions.  Claims concerning liberty in conversion in such a milieu may be legally accepted but morally and logically they cannot.  However, nobody who has voluntarily gone through a process of transition needs anything beyond the documents supporting transition to evidence a past claim of gender dysphoria.  Given the hoops we jump through, it’s difficult for anyone to claim that a transsexual has had surgery under duress.  Simple existence as a post-operative transsexual speaks for the fact itself.  What remains in a totalitarian theocracy is its decision to either accept the resulting logical disparity that demands reform or destroy the transsexual who dares to challenge the religious claims of those having been converted under duress.  In the case of such a challenge, other minorities can take notice and rise up, each with issues of their own.

It’s a condition like what Tertullian described, saying, “semen est sanguis Christianorum” (The blood of Christians is seed).”13 But the blood of martyrs resulting in political and religious reforms isn’t limited to religionists.  For example, the persecution of Galileo Galilei by Catholic authorities spurred a rise of popular interest in science and added to scientific fervor.14 Just like Galileo brought an ascendancy of scientific interest and contributed to the decline of European religious tyranny, transpeople have the potential to spark such a reevaluation of religious liberty claims that can fuel a popular uprising of its own, leading ultimately to a crash of Dominionists’ theocratic grip.

 

A PHILOSOPHIC WARRANT

In which case, transpeople, especially those who transition, need to understand the logic of liberty claims:  their own as well as those of religionists.  For that matter, transpeople do well to understand philosophic ideas including ideas that demand religious literacy.  We should be able to teach them.  Such an understanding not only helps to refine one’s own thoughts about the self and the universe, but may bequeath a treasure for future generations that may arise in a more congenial age.  It may come in a time of environmental ruin and depopulation of the planet resulting from the madness of Dominionist policies rooted in the classic lust for gold, greed, and converts to what they claim is God.

Movements inevitably lead to political machines before becoming monuments to the “good old days.” But a more congenial age would be a time earned with an end to the Abrahamic Oppression that has gripped Europe and other parts of the world since Theodosius cosigned the Edict of RomeIt will also be a time earned for the meek who inherit the Earth, and not because they’re too timid to refuse it.

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________________________

REFERENCES:

Image: Modified details of 2 public domain images.  Left is a statue honoring the ideal of protecting the worshipper from the state, commissioned by the Jewish anti-defamation league B’nai Berith and sculpted by Moses Jacob Ezekiel.  It stands in Fairmont Park, Philadelphia; right is a detail from a protest for trans rights, Flikr.

  1. Lynnea Urania Stuart. “Alas, the Charioteer” Transpire (November 25, 2016, accessed July 19, 2017) https://lynneauraniastuart.wordpress.com/2016/11/25/alas-the-charioteer/.
  2. Unless otherwise noted, the author relies upon her own experience with the Evangelical Alliance having participated in evangelism from 1974 before her exit from the Campbellists in 1978 and the Seventh-Day Adventists in 1995. Post-Millennialism claims that Christ returns after a 1000 year rule of the church on Earth.  Pre-Millenialism claims the 1000 rule happens after the return of Christ.  Pre-Tribulation and Post-Tribulation refers to whether a secret rapture, or taking up of “real Christians” into heaven, happens before or after a period of mass persecution of Christians.  Eschatology is a branch of theology pertaining to the end of the world.
  3. (n.a.) “Taking Over the Republican Party” Theocracy Watch (Updated February 2005, accessed July 19, 2017) http://www.theocracywatch.org/taking_over.htm.
  4. Republican National Platform Committee. “Republican Platform, 2016” (presented to the delegates of the GOP National Convention August 2016)
  5. HR 2796, Section 3 (bill introduced to the U.S. House of Representatives by Representatives Olson, Babin, Abraham, and Hartzler on June 7, 2017)
  6. Utilitarianism consists of 2 versions of Consequentialism that posit that right action must be determined upon the greatest number of sentient beings made happy (Jeremy Bentham) or determined upon a rule affecting the greatest number of people made happy (John Stuart Mill). The Consequentialism of medical ethics does not take statistics on societal happiness into account.
  7. “A priori” refers to what can be known ahead of time as opposed to “a posteriori” which refers to what can be known after the fact.
  8. 2 Peter 1:20.
  9. Gary R. Councell. “Adventists and Military Service” Spectrum (July 23, 2012, accessed July 19, 2017) http://spectrummagazine.org/article/gary-r-councell/2012/07/23/adventists-and-military-service .
  10. Related by Seventh-Day Adventist pastors to the author in the 1970’s and 1980’s.
  11. (na.a) “EEOC Compliance Manual, Section 12-4: Reasonable Accommodation” Directives Transmittal Number 915.003 (July 22, 2008, accessed July 19, 2017) https://www.eeoc.gov/policy/docs/religion.html#_Toc203359518 .
  12. (n.a.) “The Image of the Beast” End Times Prophecy (n.d., accessed July 20, 2017) http://www.end-times-prophecy.org/image-of-the-beast.html.
  13. Tertullian. “Apologeticus Pro Christianis” 50:13
  14. Briggs, Kenneth A. “Scholars Are Still Embattled Over the Case of Galileo” New York Times (April 28m 1981, accessed July 20, 2017) http://www.nytimes.com/1981/04/28/science/scholars-are-still-embattled-over-the-case-of-galileo-madisonwisc.html?pagewanted=all.

 

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The Curious Case of the Philadelphia Pride Flag

by Micah J. Fleck

In June, the city of Philadelphia raised a new LGBT pride flag featuring two new colors (black and brown) in order to recognize and highlight a particular subgroup in the broader LGBT community: gay and trans people of color. The initiative behind this addition, More Color More Pride, is led by black queer activist Amber Hikes for the purposes of drawing attention to what she sees as a type of in-group bigotry within the LGBT community against its black and trans members. The new colors, which frankly look pretty damn cool up against the traditional rainbow, are being reported as having caused a divide in the LGBT world. But I think in an ironic way the additions merely put a spotlight on a rift that was already there.

The divide in question is being seen between the white and black LGBT members, as well as between those who are cis and trans. Now while this is certainly not true across the board (broad brushes make sloppy paintings), it’s common enough for me to have come across it firsthand despite being a mere ally who doesn’t live every second of my life in the gay or trans stratosphere. I’ve even had a few conversations with people who are cis, white, and gay, and who seem to be deeply irritated by the change. Before weighing in on which arguments I actually find reasonable and which I do not, let’s establish first a quick history and purpose behind the flag as well as how ubiquitous the color additions actually are.

First of all, the flag itself in its original form. It was designed by gay activist and artist Gilbert Baker in 1978, and originally did have two more colors than its final rendition. Though they were removed simply because the particular shades were more expensive to obtain in cloth at the time. What the world ultimately saw was a flag that featured the following colors: red, orange, yellow, green, blue, and purple. And each color represented something abstract and elemental, yet experiential (i.e. an emotion, like joy, or a natural interaction, like sunlight). In this way, the flag ensured to encompass the human experience broadly enough that it would be as inclusive as possible. It is a flag for all—including those who are gay. Because underneath the surface we all share these elemental and positive desires.

This is the intended symbol of the flag—inclusivity and humanity, no matter who you are. It’s a positive message, and had it been universally upheld for its values within the LGBT community, I seriously doubt there would even be an issue in the first place. But the reality is that many gay communities and events have been known to segregate themselves based on race, gender, class, or citizenship across the country—from Phoenix to Virginia to Philadelphia, and beyond. And this has been a thing for some time, dating back at least the 80s when lesbian majorities would keep blacks and men out of their gay bars, which were often the only places of refuge at the time, even if they too were part of the gay community. There’s also the ongoing problem of mainstream pride movements such as the Human Rights Campaign being accused of things like excluding conservatives or not investing any real money into trans-specific causes.

And the greater reality is that despite the more all-encompassing title of “pride” it now bears, this movement was originally just known as “gay pride,” which has caused confusion even among some of the modern gay activists I spoke to on this topic regarding how welcome trans people really are in it. “It’s gender, not orientation,” one woman in the movement explained to me; “Maybe they don’t belong in this movement and should have their own.” Apparently ‘separate but equal’ is back in fashion, at least for some in the gay community who can’t seem to wrap their heads around non-heteronormative genders being just as in need of pride representation as non-heteronormative sexual preferences.

Now of course there is indeed a trans rights movement all of its own—it even has its own flag of badass colors! But the point is that the pride movement at large has grown into something bigger and more encompassing than what it was when it began. And that’s absolutely okay. The entire point of pride parades, etc. is to show that one does not need to feel ashamed or marginalized for being oneself. To celebrate one’s humanity and social worth, regardless of what prejudices or discriminations are unfairly hoisted upon one’s very existence. Do trans members of society not qualify for that? Are they seriously not welcome in the pride movement simply because their plight is due to social clashes with their gender rather than who they are naturally sexually attracted to? Aren’t both of these things equally worthy of delineating a self-identity?

And what of the racism in particular that is seen in the LGBT community? It seems to permeate into the subconscious of so many LGBT people to the point where it causes exclusionary friendship and dating habits, according to some reports. And even if that itself isn’t as blatant or intentional as it could be, it comes back around to the principle that failing to provide welcome to others in the same rights crisis is akin to denying them refuge. Why in the world would human beings do this to each other?

Which brings us to the final piece of evidence in favor of the inclusion of the additional stripes to the Philadelphia flag: the murders of trans women of color that occur every year in the double digits and beyond. This has been called an epidemic by trans advocates, and whether or not one wants to go that far with the rhetoric, it’s hard to see it as anything other than targeting  of a specific demographic when one takes into account the very small percentage of trans individuals alive today in the U.S.: 0.3% of the total population. Now take that number and slice it even thinner by focusing not just on trans females, but trans females who are black. Why in the world are so many of them dying per year if their murders are just random occurrence and not specifically because of who and what they are? Why does the LGBT community, even in patches, seem disinterested in helping raise awareness about this group, and as a result take steps toward humanizing them? Protecting them?

This, the compilation of all the previous points, is the strongest case I have found for why the added colors were deemed necessary by the activists led by Amber Hikes. There is evidence that the LGBT community isn’t as inclusive as the flag supposedly represents, and for the specific demographics being ostracized, perhaps a visual cue or reminder that they matter too is needed—especially in Philadelphia, where we’ve already established this sort of exclusion goes on. From the perspective of someone in the position of Hikes, Philadelphia in particular needed a wake up call. It is, after all, just a local flag in Philadelphia; it’s not yet been accepted as the official worldwide flag. Who knows if it will, but even the fact that the flag was changed in an unofficial way in a single city has already caused an uproar with many gay activists. Considering the evidence put forth… Why?

The arguments against the additional colors vary, but the most reasonable one to my eye is the one that aims to preserve the legacy of what the flag was originally about. As it stands right now, the new flag’s colors do not seem to have an elemental meaning to them; they simply are the colors, and nothing more. Which makes the flag about race, now, and this is something Gilbert Baker was clearly trying to transcend. However, perhaps that transcending was, like many ideal things, a bit premature. After all, the LGBT community is still struggling with racism and transphobia, and the response from within to these additions do seem to confirm that a subconscious desire to exclude exists. What I can understand is the initial pushback to the idea at the conceptual stage, and for conceptual reasons; what I have a harder time wrapping my head around is the outright anger and division that has been occurring since the change was already made. What good does it do to literally say “you can’t add your colors to our flag… Because you’re welcome?” It becomes a contradictory rhetoric that seems more concerned with undoing an inclusive visual than taking genuinely inclusive action. And the latter is all the added colors were ever really after.

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Republicans Fail 214-209…This Time

It’s a hurtful amendment, it’s not needed. I view it as a personal issue, because as a mom I’m impacted, but it’s an issue of fairness for everyone. ” said Miami Republican Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, a Miami Republican.

The House of Representatives debated banning medical treatments for transgender individuals serving in the military. Republican Rep. Hunter of California suggested to any transgender person willing to defend their country to, “Choose what gender you are before you join.”

Majority of Democrats who gathered to oppose the amendment offered by Republican, Rep. Vicky Hartzler of Mo¹., quietly gasped at the transpobic rhetoric on the House floor.

After Hunter finished speaking, Sean Patrick Maloney, an openly gay congressman from New York, took his turn at the podium.

No one in the Pentagon has called for this,” Maloney said. “The Hartzler amendment would single out and rob a small group of military service members and their families of their health care merely because these folks, or members of their family, experience gender a little differently.”

Just under an hour later, the House of Representatives narrowly voted down Hartzler’s proposal 214-209, to audible cheers from the House floor.

More than two dozen House Republicans voted with 190 Democrats to sink the amendment that would prohibit military funds for soldiers seeking medical treatment related to gender transition.

It’s a hurtful amendment, it’s not needed,” said Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen², a Miami Republican, and a noted advocate for LGBT rights who has a transgender son. “I view it as a personal issue, because as a mom I’m impacted, but it’s an issue of fairness for everyone. You don’t have to know someone that’s transgender or have someone in your immediate family to feel this impact. It’s just needlessly hurtful and serves no useful purpose.

Rep., Ros-Lehtinen was among the 24 other Republicans, including Miami Rep. Carlos Curbelo, who also voted against the amendment. Miami Republican Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart however did vote in favor of the amendment.

Hartzler believes that her amendment would save the military money, and said the Department of Defense could buy 13 more F-35 fighter jets with the money that would be used for gender reassignment surgeries and hormone treatments for transgender service members. Her words sends a dangerous message to trans people and the rest of the country, that most Republicans feel the healthy life of Transgender Americans is worth less than having another Jet.

By recruiting and allowing transgender individuals to serve in OUR military we are subjecting taxpayers to high medical costs including up to $130,000 per transition surgery, lifetime hormone treatments, and additional surgeries to address the high percentage of individuals who experience complications,” she said in a statement. “This policy is costly and a threat to our readiness.”

Republicans and Democrats hammered out the massive $696 billion Department of Defense budget proposal. Leaders from both parties came to an agreement: The annual must-pass bill wasn’t the place for Hartzler’s contentious proposal.

But Hartzler  persisted, and her amendment was accepted late Wednesday evening by House Republicans who determine the rules for debating legislation.

My amendment ends the 2016 Obama Administration practice of the military paying for very expensive gender change surgeries that even most private insurance plans don’t cover,” Hartzler said in a statement. “This amendment does not prevent anyone from joining the military or resources are allocated in a way that is smart and good for our national defense.”

Transgender people were supposed to be allowed to enlist on July 1 this year³, but the day before the deadline Defense Secretary Jim Mattis deferred the decision for another 6 months. Military leaders need more time to analyze whether the “readiness and lethality of our forces” will be affected, he said.

The amendment was immediately blasted by military LGBT groups, who said it was “CRUEL” to deny such health benefits to Americans serving in the military.

“To be clear, this vile amendment is a vicious attack on service members who are sacrificing so much and putting their lives on the line for our country,” said Ashley Broadway-Mach, president of the American Military Partner Association. She said the amendment would also strip “medically necessary” care from transgender family members.

This is vitally important care that military families are already receiving, and these medical decisions should be left to medical professionals and their patients,” she said. “This legislative assault on military families absolutely must be stopped.”

Matt Thorn, the executive director of military LGBT advocacy group Outserve-SLDN, called the amendment “a mean-spirited, unconstitutional attempt to impede the recruitment of openly transgender individuals.”

LGBT groups also condemned Hartzler for calling transgender service members a “DOMESTIC THREAT” in an interview with the conservative Family Research Council.

At a time when we should be focusing on the threats from North Korea, Vladimir Putin, and ISIS, we’re having to deal with a threat here at home — a domestic threat — of allowing transgenders… in our service, which is a real problem because it impacts their readiness, and it’s a huge cost for our military,” Hartzler said.

A 2016 analysis by Rand Corp. found that the impact on military readiness would be minimal, since even the highest estimates indicate that less than 0.1 percent of the total force would ever seek transition-related medical care that would hinder their deployment. It also found that the cost of transition-related treatment would be relatively low.

This amendment will go back to an era, but where we going forward,” said Rep. Adam Smith, a Democrat from Washington State. “It wouldn’t just impact transgender people who are serving, it would also impact their children. It’s a social agenda that has no business being in the defense bill.”

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  1. Rep. Vicky Hartzler (R-Mo.)  proposed barring access to transition-related care for troops, citing it would save cost for more weapons. She has served as the U.S. Representative for Missouri’s 4th congressional district since 2011. The district comprises a large swath of the western-central part of the state, anchored in Columbia to the eastern and southern Kansas City suburbs, including a small portion of Kansas City itself.
  2. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, is a South Florida Republican, who came out in support of her transgender son in 2014 in a local CBS news cast.
  3. In June 2016, after a push from the Obama Administration, the Pentagon lifted it’s ban on Transgender people serving openly in the US Military. The ban was to take effect July 1st of 2017. After the election of #NotourPresident, deferments by the Department of Defense began to delay the ban.

 

 

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