This morning, President Donald Trump tweeted that, at his direction as Commander in Chief, the United States will no longer “accept or allow transgender individuals to serve in any capacity in the U.S. military.”
Funders for LGBTQ Issues strongly condemns this discriminatory and ill-informed statement as a baseless attack on transgender people. While the implications and legality of his statement remain unclear, if enacted it would make our country less safe. It is wrong and cruel for the president to single out transgender people for differential treatment – just as it has been wrong and cruel for him to target immigrants, Muslims, and other vulnerable communities.
As a network of foundations and corporations that annually awards more than $1 billion to improve the lives of all people, we call on this administration and Congress to honor and protect our active trans service members who are bravely and honorably serving our country – openly so for the last year, without causing any significant disruptions.
The National Center for Transgender Equality estimates that there are more than 15,000 active transgender service members and more than 134,000 transgender veterans. Trump’s proposed transgender military ban would negatively impact our military and dishonor trans veterans who have already sacrificed a great deal for their country.
President Trump’s tweets legitimize employment discrimination based on gender identity and contribute to a hostile climate in which trans people already often feel unsafe. According to the 2015 U.S. Transgender Survey, more than one-quarter of transgender people have experienced workplace discrimination over the past year, and nearly one in ten has been physically attacked in the past year for being transgender.
Trump’s tweets justified discrimination based partly on healthcare costs, but the RAND Corporation found that the costs of providing healthcare for active transgender service members would be negligible.
Healthcare is a topic being debated by both Trump and Congress, as the Senate continues to work towards a repeal of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). The ACA vastly increased access to healthcare for transgender people and for millions of Americans. The proposed trans military ban and repeal of the ACA would deny large swaths of the American population basic human rights including access to healthcare and economic opportunity.
“It’s no coincidence that Trump and other anti-LGBTQ lawmakers are specifically targeting transgender people – who are among the most severely under-resourced of communities,” said Rye Young, member of the board of directors of Funders for LGBTQ Issues and director of the Third Wave Fund, which funds gender justice. “With few well-resourced transgender organizations in this country, the administration thinks trans people are an easy target. It’s our responsibility as funders to make sure that trans communities have the resources they need to fight back against this kind of discrimination and scapegoating.”
“Unfortunately, this is only the latest in a string of attacks on trans communities, including anti-trans bills in states from Texas to Washington,” said Ben Francisco Maulbeck, President of Funders for LGBTQ Issues. “As funders, we not only need to respond to these attacks – we also need to provide support for trans people to gain better access to education, healthcare, and economic opportunity. This isn’t just a conversation for LGBTQ funders, but for all funders concerned about these issues.”
In the coming months, Funders for LGBTQ Issues will continue to update the philanthropic community around developments related to this policy and other policies affecting transgender people – as well as opportunities for funding to improve the lived experience of transgender communities.