Military Trans Ban

[Written by Declan Nolan, MTPC Summer Intern]

On July 26th, President Trump tweeted out a ban on transgender folks serving in the U.S. Military. First of all, what does this mean? Additionally what does this mean for you as a transgender person or an ally?

At the moment, transgender already-enlisted service members can serve openly, but civilian transgender people are disqualified from serving. It is unclear what this will mean for the openly transgender people currently serving. If this series of tweets becomes a policy, the military may choose to discharge openly transgender service members.

To many people this announcement came as a shock. A common misconception is that transgender people were included in “Don’t ask, don’t tell,” but this isn’t true. The LGBT community is often talked about as a single unit which can cause confusion when differentiating between sexual orientation and gender identity. Transgender people have been able to serve openly since June 30th of last year. This policy only applies to people who are already currently serving; not new recruits.

Currently, there has been no policy memo formally articulated to the Pentagon. This means that there will be no changes made yet to the way transgender people serve in the military. This may change in the near future, but so far all is the same. There are still debates going on about transition related healthcare and if it should be covered by the health insurance provided by the military.

The idea of not allowing transgender people to serve based on their gender identity alone is blatant discrimination. Even transgender individuals who have no indication of ever serving in the military should be concerned because of the precedent this sets. So what does this mean for you as a transgender person or ally?

On order to understand this potential ban’s full effect, we should educate ourselves about the needs and experiences of transgender veterans and service members. A great resource we have found is the Transgender American Veterans Association.  They provide “unwavering support for our transgender service members and veterans past, present, and future.” We also found great information from the American Veterans for Equal Rights. Organizations like this are an important reminder to transgender veterans and service members that you are supported and cared for by your transgender community. This support comes regardless of the current or future policies put in place by the current administration.

You might be asking yourself, what can I do to help my community or the trans people in my life? There are plenty of ways to help: check out some great ones from the Advocate. If it is safe to and you are able to, get involved in some activism! If you are from Massachusetts, a wonderful campaign to get involved with is Freedom Massachusetts. They are fighting against an initiative on the statewide ballot in 2018 to repeal our state’s nondiscrimination law ensuring protection in public spaces for transgender people. They are always looking for volunteers to participate in phone banks, data entry, and in person recruitment.

To the allies of the transgender community, we need you. Keep the conversation going; educate those around you on what has happened, especially other cisgender folks in your life. Continue to learn; keep yourself educated on what this means and why it matters. Know that the fight for transgender rights cannot be won without the assistance of family, friends, neighbors, and coworkers.

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In Response to Trump Attacks on Trans Military Service

The Mass Trans Political Coalition stands in solidarity with our community members who are currently serving or have served in the US military. Statements from the White House this morning highlight the attacks the trans and gender nonconforming community face at every level – from discrimination in the streets, to the workplace, all the way up to attacks from the Federal Administration.

Trans and gender nonconforming people have been a part of the fabric of our world for centuries – this includes those who have served in armed forces around the world and across time. Stating that trans and gender nonconforming people are an “expense” or “disruption” is a low and callous attack on community members who have served and continue to serve in the armed forces.

To trans and gender nonconforming service members and veterans: you are important to the MTPC community. We will continue to fight for your rights to be seen, to pursue your career, to have access to the spaces you want or need, and be validated in your gender identity. If you need support, please reach out. You are not alone.

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Share a Pie for us


I make really great pie.

The secret is in the crust. I found a recipe that uses shortening to make it flakey and vodka (Russians!) to make it smooth. As much as I love to cook, baking is not a task that comes easily to me. But I do especially love eating pies, and Thanksgiving just doesn’t feel right until I tuck into a slice of pumpkin pie with a healthy dollop of whip cream.

I recently learned that when Franklin McCain sat down at that Woolworth counter in February 1960, he asked for a slice of apple pie. Four black students seeking integration in public accommodations chose eating as an act of protest, and by doing so they shifted the narrative of civil rights. This is such a rich image in my mind; apple pie is often touted as the symbol of Americana. And in that moment, four black men having a slice of pie in a public place became a statement about who does or doesn’t belong in that image of Americana.

Only a few years later, in 1965, the LGBTQ community in Philadelphia held a sit in at Dewey’s Lunch Counter. This action, sparked by the owner’s new policy to deny service to those in “gender non-conformist clothing,” brought out approximately 150 trans and gender nonconforming people, led predominately by people of color. Together, they sat and ordered pie, risking discrimination, hostility, and abuse for their right to share a meal. And this, (followed later by Compton’s Cafeteria riot), occurred years before the well known Stonewall Riot.

Fast forward to July 2016, to the day the Transgender Public Accommodations bill was being debated in the Mass State House. Representative John Fernandes in his speech supporting the bill made the connection again to the civil rights movement. “You can’t tell people it’s OK to work at the diner, but it’s not to sit at the lunch counter. We learned that a long time ago.” He was the first of many legislators who would go on to vote in favor of the bill becoming law.

But then I left the chamber, and walked into the public foyer. There I watched as dozens of citizens verbally sparred about human decency, often grossly assuming that transgender people were the herald of sexual violence; I myself engaged in one such debate. And even though I was horrified by what our opponents were saying (and indeed shouting), I realize only now, that I was doing the same thing to them that they were doing to me. I was making assumptions about who they were, their upbringing, their ideologies and their morals. I cast them as the villain in my own hero story.

But just like a good piece of pie, the truth is so much more layered and rich. On paper, I have many ingredients that define me and make me into the queer trans man of color who I am. And rather than make assumptions about the wrapper, I always ask that people speak to me so that they can learn more about who I am and what I hope for. But I also need to be willing to swing that door in the other direction as well. The person who I engaged from the opposition was Asian, and because of her age and our shared race, she reminded me of my own mother.

In the past several weeks we at MTPC have seen some very scary harbingers of what’s to come. The law that we all worked so very hard to pass is already vulnerable to a ballot recall, and in 2018, everyday citizens will be given the choice to repeal it. In light of this, I am asking for your help to shift the narrative of civil rights. If I had the chance to sit with that woman and engaged with her as a unique human being, in short treated her the way I treat my mother, would she still have the heart to reject our pleas? If we could sit down and share a slice of pie together, would she still be a stranger to me? Because as I’ve said in the past, only a stranger would deny us our rights.
So bake a pie and share it with your next door neighbor. Listen to them when they talk about their hopes and dreams. Chat about what makes us all human in this crazy and illogical world. Find out the secret to their pie crust. And enjoy a slice of pie for me. Happy Pie Day.

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RISE UP! With Trans and Queer Students

Action Alert!

Join the Mass Trans Political Coalition for a rally to RISE UP! with trans and queer students. We will gather with students, teachers, adults, and allies to support students in light of the attack on trans rights from the federal administration.

EVENT DETAILS:

What: RISE UP! With Trans and Queer Students
When: Sunday, March 5th, 12pm
Where: Boston Common, in front of the State House
Who: Join the Mass Trans Political Coalition, along with trans and queer youth, teachers, and allies to support trans and gender nonconforming students whose rights are under attack.

Our Co-Sponsors:

ACLU of Massachusetts
Alliance for a Secular and Democratic South Asia
Anti-Defamation League, New England Region
Black and Pink
Boston Alliance of LGBTQ Youth (BAGLY, Inc.)
Boston Food Not Bombs
Boston GLOW
Cambridge Women’s Center
Church of the Covenant
GLBTQ Legal Advocates & Defenders (GLAD)
GLSEN Massachusetts
Hispanic Black Gay Coalition
History UnErased, Inc.
HRC Boston
Keshet
MassEquality
National Association of Social Workers – Massachusetts Chapter
OUT MetroWest
Planned Parenthood Advocacy Fund of Massachusetts
The Lenny Zakim Fund
The Network/la Red
Transcending Identities by Dr. Eunice Aviles
Welcoming Faiths of the Merrimack Valley

To sign up as a co-sponsor, please fill out this form.

You can RSVP on Facebook as well! 

 

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