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Military should not ban trans individuals

Transgender rights debate stigmatizes gender identity, causes unnecessary division in military

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Military should not ban trans individuals

GIESORC Director Matthew Jeffries emphasizes how important education is regarding awareness for the LGBTQ community.

GIESORC Director Matthew Jeffries emphasizes how important education is regarding awareness for the LGBTQ community.

MATT ESTABROOK | THE DAILY EVERGREEN

GIESORC Director Matthew Jeffries emphasizes how important education is regarding awareness for the LGBTQ community.

MATT ESTABROOK | THE DAILY EVERGREEN

MATT ESTABROOK | THE DAILY EVERGREEN

GIESORC Director Matthew Jeffries emphasizes how important education is regarding awareness for the LGBTQ community.

ALAINA BEAULAURIER, Evergreen columnist

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Emotional reinforcement and acceptance for trans service members from their peers is necessary to dismantle the toxic environment they serve in. Programs that promote education and normalize trans individuals within the military community are necessary.

President Donald Trump tweeted last summer that trans soldiers would be banned in any capacity from the military. Many service members applauded the president’s tweet, but these policies were never actually repealed. Trans service members are still allowed to serve, although they may be in a toxic work environment. This has made us a weaker and less united military.

Matthew Jeffries, director of the Gender Identity/Expression and Sexual Orientation Resource Center, spoke about expanding gender identity and trans rights in the U.S.

“This might be the most salient civil rights fight that we have in this decade,” Jeffries said.

Jeffries said that education is the key to creating a positive environment for all people, even in a culture that normalizes and values cisgender people.

“It’s education and making people aware of this stuff,” Jeffries said. “Being more comfortable and talking about it is the hardest thing for folks.”

Service members may not always feel comfortable in the military. Talking about the struggles that come with questioning gender identity causes fear of being stigmatized. This needs to change.

An airman, who wishes to remain anonymous, spoke about his unit’s interaction with a service member’s transition from man to woman. His story voiced concern for the obstacles that trans service members face.

The airman recalled a conversation between himself and the transitioning service member in regards to her not being allowed to carry her mandatory weapon because of the drugs she takes for her transition.

The drugs that trans individuals take are simply hormone replacements, like estrogen or testosterone.

The stereotype that transitioning people are mentally ill is seen repeatedly throughout our culture. Taking away service members’ weapons is a manifestation of the “mentally unstable” trope our nation often sees played out.

“I’ve seen this service member since then, and she seemed fine,” the airman said. “She is armed up again and got promoted from [staff sergeant to technical sergeant]. It sounds like she is doing good.”

This doesn’t change the fact that taking away this military member’s weapon creates an environment where trans individuals are not only ostracized for their gender expression, but for the misguided idea that they are not able to efficiently perform their duties. This narrative needs a considerable adjustment, not only within our military, but across the nation.

It is imperative that programs for trans people are put into place to educate military members on the transitioning process — especially at a time where trans individuals are allowed to serve in the military, yet our president openly tweets about their displacement from the forces.

“They don’t want to come out because they’re afraid of what they think their peers might think of them,” the airman said. “I can’t believe she was brave enough to be able to do that.”

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Military should not ban trans individuals