Resist: SF marches against trans military ban
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For over a hundred years, San Francisco has been known as "The City that Knows How." On July 26, the Castro – once again – showed the world why.
That morning, President Donald Trump issued three tweets declaring that trans people were barred from serving in the United States military "in any capacity" because Trump considers trans service members to be a "distraction."
"I'm really getting tired of getting told everything is a distraction," Kenzi Connor, a Castro resident and queer leather trans woman, said that night to an enthusiastic crowd assembled for an emergency demonstration against the change. "Our lives are not a distraction."
In an impressive display of organization, a group calling itself The Resistance San Francisco put the event together just hours after Trump's latest transphobic cri-de-Twitter made international headlines.
Connor addressed those cisgender queers who asked "the most marginalized people to stand aside and fight your battles for you and to rally against Proposition 8 and [who said] 'Don't worry, your turn will come, we'll be there for you.
"Well, that time is now," she said.
Led by members of the Sparkling Pink Pandas Scooter Club, about 300 people answered Connor's call by marching down Market Street toward City Hall.
As in the days of the late Supervisor Harvey Milk, the cry of "out of the bars, into the streets!" rang out down Market Street from Noe Street to Van Ness until the crowd reached City Hall, which was lit up in pink, white, and blue to honor the colors of the trans flag.
After the march, spokespersons for the Pentagon announced that it would not put Trump's demand for a ban into effect until it received direct orders to do so. According to published reports, Admiral Paul Zukunft, commandant of the U.S. Coast Guard, went even further in defying Trump's tweets, declaring that he would not "break faith" with the 13 trans people who were presently serving openly in the Coast Guard.
Zukunft may have greater leeway on this issue than his colleagues in the Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marine Corps. Although the Coast Guard is considered an armed service, it falls under the Department of Homeland Security rather than the Department of Defense and so Zukunft takes orders not from Secretary of Defense James "Mad Dog" Mattis (who has opposed trans people serving openly in the military in the past, though some claim he has changed his mind) but from acting DHS Secretary Elaine Duke, who is not known to have taken a public position on the question.
Currently, there is a vibrant debate within the trans community as to whether we should volunteer to serve in the U.S. military. Some oppose the idea, contending the military has a dark role both in defending imperialism as well as amplifying the oppression of marginalized groups here and abroad.
While there is much justice in these arguments, it's my position that it's impossible to have an honest discussion about whether trans people should lend their talents and lives to the military if we lack the legal ability to do so openly.
Also, as many have pointed out, the battle isn't only about career opportunities any more than the fight for marriage equality was exclusively about marriage. In both cases, the goal was to remove an indicator of our perceived inferior status.
We're also pretty good at what we do, as shown in the eloquent July 26 tweet from Anthony Oliveira, Ph.D., a film and culture critic in Toronto, to those who backed the trans ban: "Last time y'all pissed off a trans person in service she brought ur intelligence community to its knees & u just picked a fight w ALL OF THEM."
Oliveira, of course, was referring to Chelsea Manning.
Challenge accepted, Trump.
Upcoming Resistance opportunities
The Anti-Police Terror Project is looking for courtroom volunteers to support Dejuan Hall and Jesse Buna at their court date at 3 p.m. Friday, August 11 in Solano County Superior Court Department 9 in Fairfield. In March, a video that showed a Vallejo police officer severely beating Hall while he was arresting him sparked allegations of police brutality. Both are being charged with assault.
East Bay Homes Not Jails is giving a seminar on "Radical First Aid/Health and Safety" at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, August 12 at Omni Commons, 4799 Shattuck Avenue in Oakland. Presenters will show how to counter threats like pepper spray and share lessons on personal safety at actions, including some learned at the Standing Rock occupation.
The San Francisco Young Democrats and Local 2 of UNITE HERE are teaming up with activist Cleve Jones for a teach-in on "Intro to Organizing: Changing Hearts and Minds." It starts at 6:30 p.m. Monday, August 14 at 209 Golden Gate Avenue in San Francisco.
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