Calls grow for trans military ban to be lifted amid coronavirus pandemic

The Tr*mp administration’s hateful ban came into force last year.

There are calls in the United States for the Tr*mp administration’s ban on trans people serving in the military to be lifted due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

Some of those calls are coming from Lambda Legal, an organisation which fights for LGBTQ rights. A lawyer for the organisation, Peter Renn, said: “The dangers of discrimination come into sharpest focus in all-hands-on-deck moments like this, when we need every capable and talented person available.

“But the government has excluded a group of people based on a characteristic unrelated to merit … the military is essentially cutting off its nose to spite its face.”

Several trans people spoke to the Thomas Reuters Foundation about being unable to serve, despite their wishes to do so. “I almost feel like a caged animal – I’m just kind of standing here on the sidelines watching everything happen in front of me,” explained Nic Talbott, who is also one of four plaintiffs in a case challenging the ban.

He added: “I am capable, qualified and willing to do more, but there’s this barrier in front of me that makes absolutely no sense.”

Ted Eytan via Flickr

John Roberts, a trans man who wants to be part of the National Guard, who have been deployed to help with the coronavirus pandemic, said: “It’s probably the most frustrating thing I’ve had to deal with in my entire life. I’m ready, I’m here, I’m willing, I’m qualified. I want to get out there. And I want to help.”

Another trans man, Kaycen Bradley, said: “There’s a lot of scepticism around whether or not we’re able to do it, but at the end of the day, I’ve surpassed most of the cisgender men that I train with.

“I’m able to do anything they’re able to do, if not more … if you’re holding back people that means you’re not really worried about the military at all, or about our safety and defense.”

Unfortunately, emails sent to Reuters from the Department of Defence said: “The Department is not considering adjusting existing policy.”

Earlier this month, the FDA slightly relaxed laws on gay and bisexual men donating blood because of the coronavirus pandemic. The one-year deferral period was decreased to just three months.

In a statement, the president and CEO of GLAAD, Sarah Kate Ellis, said: “LGBTQ Americans can hold their heads up today and know that our voices will always triumph over discrimination.”

Scott Wiener, a Democratic Senator in California, said the three-month deferral period was “still awful” and added: “The celibacy requirement still irrationally discriminates against gay and bisexual men by placing a celibacy requirement on them without placing that same requirement on sexually active straight people.”

Related: Republicans defeat amendment from House Democrats that would’ve overturned trans military ban

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