Commentary on Executive Order Repealing Transgender Military Ban
It seems like we all watched the inauguration with bated breath. After the events of January 6, 2021, the unspoken question in everyone’s mind was whether democracy would pull through and whether there would be more violence. Yet, last Wednesday we witnessed a peaceful transition of power and the installation of the next duly-elected administration. While we can finally breathe a sigh of relief, our work is not over. With a new administration, regardless of political affiliation, our community’s duty is to continue holding leadership accountable and demanding equality and justice for all. I look forward to holding the Biden-Harris administration accountable, just as we demanded the Trump administration adhere to the Constitution and the rule of law.
It is with this sentiment that I both applaud and critique the Biden administration’s repeal of the ban on military service for transgender individuals by Executive Order. While this positive step towards equality comes in the context of the military, which at is core is fraught with toxic masculinity, white supremacy, and represents an antithetical obstacle to global peace, LGBTQI+ individuals should never be precluded from partaking in a profession or calling on the basis of their gender, gender identity, or sexual orientation. The inclusion of LGBTQI+ individuals, as well as women, people of color, and all those who intersect these identities is crucial to restoring dignity, respect, and pride to our armed forces. The diversification of the military is also paramount to the integration of our community in the rest of civic life. World War II brought about tremendous change after women, first, and then African Americans were incorporated into the war effort by necessity. While these segments of the population did not enjoy full integration, their participation in the armed forces revolutionized gender roles and the makeup of the American workforce during and after the war. Nonetheless, African Americans returned home from the war to a life of bigotry and injustice despite helping to destroy some of the most homicidal, racist regimes in human history. It was undeniable that they too had been victims of such a racist regime having served and died in segregated units. The war’s rationale of extending democracy abroad could not hold water following the war without accepting the shortcomings of “democracy” at home. This incongruence between the supposed purpose of the war and the reality of the African American experience at home undeniably contributed to the rise of the Civil Rights movement.
Likewise today, the United States cannot hold itself out as the standard bearer of equality and justice in the world with a stain on our flag such as the doomed “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” policy and the latest ban on transgender personnel. We must continue marching towards and demanding equality for all. Full integration of transgender personnel in the military can only bring forth a new era of inclusion, advocacy, and righteousness.
The Executive Order on Enabling All Qualified Americans to Serve Their Country in Uniform has significant shortcomings which will require further advocacy and non-complacency. (The below list came from Harper Jean of HJ Tobin Policy Consulting https://www.hjtobinpolicy.com.)
Personally speaking, it is a special privilege to call out a Democratic administration and I encourage everyone reading this to tow the line of unrelenting vigilance for our rights and liberties, regardless of the administration.