We all start off as a tiny zygote that eventually develops into a baby that has little worries, as we constantly seek joy. When we get older however, we often notice our perspectives on life change. Imagine being treated unfairly because you strongly believe that your gender identity does not match your sex assigned at birth. Would you want to live in a world where this type of discrimination exists?
Transgender people typically experience this type of discrimination. Transgender individuals believe they were assigned a sex at birth that does not reflect their authentic selves. Some transgender people identify as both male and female, while others do not identify as either gender. State-level population-based surveys were utilized by scholars from the Williams Institute to estimate the quantity of adults who identify as transgender in each state of the United States. Overall, they found that 0.6% or 1.4 million Americans identify as transgender (Flores et al., 2016).
Some individuals that identify as transgender choose to transition, while others choose not to for their own personal reasons. The process of transitioning often involves utilizing hormones or surgery to modify how someone looks and feels in a positive manner (Fields, 2017). This is not to be confused with conversion therapy, which is typically driven by discrimination. Conversion therapy is when a religious professional attempts to alter a transgender person’s gender identity. Some practices of conversion therapy include institutionalization, castration, and electroconvulsive therapy. Leading professional medical and mental health associations such as the American Psychiatric Association describes these practices as dangerous, unnecessary, and ineffective (National Center for Lesbian Rights, 2018). Furthermore, Dr. Jack Turban, a resident physician in psychiatry at Harvard Medical School, conducted a survey study and found that attempting to change a transgender individual’s gender identity is related to adverse mental health consequences. “Transgender people who are exposed to conversion efforts anytime in their lives are twice more likely to attempt suicide compared with those who never engaged in conversion therapy” (Fitzsimons, 2019).
In addition to the pressure that transgender people face to undergo conversion therapy practices, their ability to serve in the military is also being undermined. In July 2017, Donald Trump, current president of the United States, announced on Twitter that he would ban transgender people from serving in the military. He believes transgender personnel carry a burden with their “tremendous medical costs and disruption” (Chung & Stempel, 2019). The ban went into effect on April 12, 2019, by the Trump-Pence administration. Since 2016 until the ban, senior leaders in the United States Department of Defense have testified that transgender troops were as successful as non-transgender troops. The Pentagon, the headquarters of the U.S. Department of Defense, received data that displays that the cost of medical care for transgender troops has been very small (Human Rights Campaign, 2019), in contrast to Trump’s claim. Since transgender troops have demonstrated that they can handle their job, they should have the right to stay in the military.
It takes a lot of bravery to go against the societal norm that gender is binary. It’s an atrocity that people that go against societal norms don’t have rights and can’t live their genuine lives without facing backlash. As of right now, 18 states and the District of Columbia, ban conversion therapy practices on minors (Fitzsimons, 2019). All states should ban this inhumane method. The ban on transgender military service should be reversed or annihilated because there is no legitimate reason why transgender people are not fit to serve. Even Trump’s own supporters seem to not find his ban convincing. A poll from Public Religion Research Institute illustrated that in 2019, 47% of Republicans support transgender personnel in the U.S. military as opposed to 37% in 2017 (Blake, 2019). Human rights are liberties that are supposed to be granted to everyone, regardless of their gender identity.
Fields, L. (2017). What it means to be transgender. Retrieved from https://www.webmd.com/sex/features/transgender-what-it-means
Flores, A. R., Herman, J. L., Gates, G. J., & Brown, T. N. (2016). How many adults identify as transgender in the United States? Retrieved from https://williamsinstitute.law.ucla.edu/research/how-many-adults-identify-as-transgender-in-the-united-states/
National Center for Lesbian Rights. (2018). Born perfect: The facts about conversion therapy. Retrieved from http://www.nclrights.org/bornperfect-the-facts-about-conversion-therapy/
Fitzsimons, T. (2019). Transgender ‘conversion therapy’ associated with ‘severe psychological distress.’ Retrieved from https://www.nbcnews.com/feature/nbc-out/transgender-conversion-therapy-associated-severe-psychological-distress-n1052416
Chung, A., & Stempel, J. (2019). U.S. court lets Trump transgender military ban stand, orders new review. Retrieved from https://www.usnews.com/news/us/articles/2019-06-14/us-appeals-court-orders-new-review-of-trump-transgender-military-ban
Human Rights Campaign. (2019). Transgender military service. Retrieved from https://www.hrc.org/resources/transgender-military-service
Blake, A. (2019). Trump’s transgender military ban is losing support even in his own party. Retrieved from https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2019/06/11/trumps-transgender-military-ban-is-losing-even-his-own-party/