Trans rights are human rights. The military kills humans. Let’s not call this progress.

Dear Joel,

Donald Trump tweets that he’s going to ban trans people from the military.

What’s a progressive Mennonite supposed to think?

Trump’s justification–that trans-specific health care is too expensive–is a lie. We can afford to provide health care for all our soldiers. We do a terrible job of it now, but the reason is a matter of will, not money.

The claim that the military budget is too high is also a lie. I mean, it’s true, but Republicans don’t care. Fighting wars costs money, but that never stopped them.

And to the claim that the US military is focused on “decisive and overwhelming victory”…  well, then we would choose to use military power to fight winnable battles instead of throwing soldiers at every problem we see.

It’s clear that Trump’s issue isn’t with military readiness or cost. This hot air isn’t even about Trump’s disdain for trans people. It’s about rallying his bigoted base, as usual. And, as always, decent people must oppose hatred and bigotry.

Which is what makes the threatened ban on trans people so challenging to engage–because the military, in its purpose and its actions–is absolutely about violence to people who are weaker. It’s about emnification, which is the start of the process of hate. And, in practice, the US military kills brown skinned people. It’s violence is not evenly inflicted on the Bad Guys of the world; it’s violence disproportionately harms the most vulnerable.

Should we oppose Trump’s threat because everyone should be free to choose whether they join the military? Fundamentally, I don’t think anyone should be free to choose mass death and destruction for others. I don’t think we have the right to engage in war. I don’t think anyone has the right to bomb another person.

I’ll keep fighting for trans rights and against any effort–including this one–that demeans queer people (because that, not military readiness, is the goal for Trump). But let’s not call it a progressive cause, please.


PS. Readers, if you haven’t seen Joel’s fantastic contribution on this issue to The Week, check it out!


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