The Trans Military Ban Was Never about the Military

The new ban serves as a continuation of an old trend: stripping human rights from trans people

So I can’t join the Armed Forces.

Who cares, right? It’s not like I engage in a ton of physical activity (besides running to Towers at 9:55pm to grab Rocket Subs). I was recently even enlisted in the draft because I changed my legal gender marker, so not being able to join should be happy news, right?

Well, not really. See, Trump’s ban on transgender individuals serving in the military isn’t about the military. It has nothing to do with the costs of medical transition (by the way, the cost of my testosterone without insurance  is only roughly $60 for an eight-month supply; not to mention the military spends over $40 million annually on Viagra). Really, this could have been a ban on pretty much anything, because all trans bans have the same message: Transgender people are not worth it.

This is the same issue that we see in the bathroom debate. It’s not about bathrooms; it’s about transgender people existing in public spaces. It’s not about the military; it’s about transgender people having careers. This ban is about stripping basic humanity from trans people.

I am a volunteer operator for National Trans Lifeline. I cannot stress how many calls I get from folks who encounter a tremendous amount of violence from simply living their lives. There are callers who have been estranged from their families, kicked out of their homes, and lost their jobs just for existing as a transgender person. I can promise you that trans people aren’t trying to con the U.S. government into giving them free surgeries. They’re also not trying to create an opportunity to assault people in bathrooms. They’re just trying to live, and bans like these are restricting the ability to facilitate that livelihood.

So no, it may not seem like a huge deal, especially for someone like me. It’s not like I was planning to join the military any time soon. But it’s not about us being in the military. It’s about us being.

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Mac Ploetz
Mac Ploetz ('18) is majoring in Women's and Gender Studies. He is the 2017-18 President of the Vanderbilt Lambda Association, Vanderbilt's undergraduate gender, sexuality, and intersex alliance, and he's in his third year as a Sex Educator in Vandy Sex Ed. He has spent his time at Vanderbilt discovering and affirming his identity as a transgender person, and he works to help others affirm their identities as well. In his free time, Mac enjoys eating $30 worth of McDonald's and watching poorly-produced mid-2000s YouTube documentaries.