Trump’s trans military ban sets us further back from the goal of a united armed forces

The United States military, like the country itself, has a long history of policies based around bigotry. Still, the military has a similarly long history of overcoming bigotry in order to unify and strengthen the troops.

Over the past 100 years, US citizens have slowly recognized the limitations we inflict upon ourselves when we categorically exclude minorities from combat and other societal aspects. Divided we fall, united we stand the phrase echoed since a founding father wrote it in song is applicable to the necessary cohesion of the United States military.

In the American Revolutionary War and the American Civil War, women fought in the army disguised as men, performing military services in the name of their country. After World War II, the Women’s Armed Services Integration Act enabled women to serve as permanent, regular members of the military rather than only being able to serve as nurses or during a draft. While allowing women in the military had been taboo for an eternity, it’s clear that women were always ready to fight — and once they could, we became a stronger nation.

During World War II, all able-bodied American men were equally subject to the draft, regardless of race. Ethnic minorities made up a large number of those enlisted and subsequently joined the “Greatest Generation”. Many African-Americans fought not only against facism abroad, but also in hopes of demonstrating their value as equal citizens back home. Japanese-Americans were initially barred from serving due to their heritage. Yet after pushing the administration, members of the minority group especially witnesses of Pearl Harbor living in Hawaii volunteered in large numbers, eager to show their loyalty to the United States.

After the war, it was clear that we were stronger united. Executive Order 9981 was issued in 1948 by President Truman; it abolished discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion or national orientation in the United States Armed Forces. This eventually ended segregation in the services.

Decades later, in our modern frontier of civil rights, the “don’t ask don’t tell” policy that prohibited anyone who was openly gay from serving in the armed forces was repealed in 2011. Under the Obama administration in mid 2016, transgender personnel in the military were permitted to be open about their identities.

Slowly, it seems, the United States military has become increasingly diverse and accepting of LGBTQ persons serving our country. And given the track history of our military overcoming xenophobic policies in favor of a more united American armed forces, it seemed that things would continue to integrate and improve.

That is, until an early-morning tweet storm from a newly-in-office President Trump threatened trans military service. In July 2017, the president tweeted: “Our military must be focused on decisive and overwhelming … victory and cannot be burdened with the tremendous medical costs and disruption that transgender in the military would entail.”

Trump’s recent overturning of transgender integration in the military marked the first time a policy that eliminated bigotry was reversed.

We have a more than 70-year-old tradition of integration in our armed forces. President Trump’s reversal treads backward into this tradition, erasing progress we have taken to unite our nation through our military in a more representative, unified and cohesive manner.

The claim that transgender personnel who serve “burden” the military with medical costs and “disruption” is a bigoted statement. It echoes sentiments made during World War II by congressional opponents of military integration, who argued that all races fighting alongside each other would harm morale and military preparedness. It echoes opponents of women in the military, such as retired Lt. Gen. Jerry Boykin, who calls the integration of sexes a “social experiment” and an “unnecessary burden.” It echoes bigotry statements that have been made in the past, all of which we have attempted to overcome in favor of equality and unity.

Any person who wants to serve in the United States military in order to protect our freedoms and liberties deserves equal rights. They deserve equal rights in their service and equal rights in society. With the repeal of transgender services in the armed forces, our president both impeded our societal progress in military integration and treaded backward.

We the people should hope and vote for a future in which all persons who wish to serve our country have equal rights in doing so. If we want a more united country with a stronger military, our tradition of integration must not be halted here. We must continue to fight for progress, despite barriers imposed.