The US is Shattering its Image of Progress, One Shard At a Time

Image by Eva Ostrowska

The Obama administration flew past a thousand steps when it came to LGBTQI rights. Same sex marriage was legalised in all states of North America in 2015, and three years prior, he lifted the two decade ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ policy – a backwards forward-thinking official US policy introduced by Clinton’s administration that allowed gay, bisexual and lesbians to serve in the military, under the condition that as long as no one asks, they don’t tell. It is thanks to Obama’s administration that such ‘breakthroughs’ in LGBTQI rights are proved outdated.

But perhaps I should bite my tongue for a little longer, as Trump just passed a new legislation that bans transgender individuals from serving with the US army, claiming costs are too much – leaving thousands of transgender soldiers currently in service left to fear their future, their fate and their income.

Trump’s brash decision to promote such toxic levels of inequality is damaging on countless levels. The first and most obvious, to me at least, is that this decision will resonate across the US; creating an example of inequality in the workplace toward transgender people, and most likely the entire LGBTQI community. If the President of the United States can, with just a flick of his finger and a ride on a certain type of mood, ban and possibly make redundant, thousands of his army’s employees, what stops the rest of the country’s managers and CEO’s from doing just the same. Another destruction is that made to Obama’s policy, which provides transgender Americans with the health-care they need – the first government to fund gender reassignment surgery.

Percentages of transgender serving in the US army is double that of those who are gender binary, at 20%. Many have attributed this statistic to an oppressive demand for heteronormativity still rife throughout the states, and not what Trump claims is an opportunistic surgery loophole.

The ban’s quick-turning halt from Defence Secretary General Jim Mattis is no cause for celebration: we’ve learnt that the hard way with many of Trump’s seemingly impossible bans. Because Trump’s bans, declarations or otherwise, even if they are moulded and softened by the law and those fighting to maintain its progress, are irreversible in the message they send. If the armed forces once signified a governmental body that supports transgender; that reinforces progress in fact, it is now merely a shattered image.

And if the US once stood for a leading nation of progress, that too, is but shards on the ground.