Trump's transphobic tirade

  • Wednesday July 26, 2017
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President Donald Trump announced that he is banning transgender people from serving in the military. His shortsighted and discriminatory policy reversal is deeply rooted in his transphobic attitude shared by the military generals he referenced in a series of tweets.

"After consultation with my Generals and military experts, please be advised that the United States Government will not accept or allow transgender individuals to serve in any capacity in the U.S. Military," Trump wrote on Twitter Wednesday. "Our military must be focused on decisive and overwhelming victory and cannot be burdened with the tremendous medical costs and disruption that transgender [sic] in the military would entail."

There's a lot to unpack here, but we'll start with the obvious: it's a blatantly transphobic policy change that won't make the military stronger. There are thousands of transgender people serving on the front lines. The matter has been extensively studied, and, like the years of study regarding open gay and lesbian service, there's no indication that allowing trans people to serve openly will affect unit cohesion or morale. They are already serving.

As for the "tremendous medical costs" associated with gender confirmation surgery and other services, Trump is lying. According to the Rand Corporation, it's estimated that the cost of medical care for transgender troops is approximately one one-hundredth of 1 percent of the military annual health care budget, or at most, $8.4 million per year.

"This is a shocking and ignorant attack on our military and on transgender troops who have been serving honorably and effectively for the past year," said Aaron Belkin, director of the Palm Center, an independent research institute that has studied LGBT military service for decades.

Once again, Trump has shown he does not support the LGBT community. Once again, Trump has reversed a policy enacted by former President Barack Obama.

It's appalling that Trump's transphobia is used to denigrate trans troops, who are putting their lives on the line for their country. His action is inexcusable and wrong.


Ellis should drop Dem chair appeal

The election for California Democratic Party chair was two months ago but defeated candidate Kimberly Ellis cannot let go. This week, she announced that she will appeal a determination that longtime Democratic Party leader Eric Bauman won the contest, a precursor to a lawsuit. Meanwhile, Bauman has begun serving as state party chair, and has a lot of work to do to unify California Democrats.

Ellis, though, has not conceded. First she asked for a recount of the ballots. Then a hearing on that issue occurred last weekend, and the Los Angeles Times reported that the review commission did invalidate 47 votes – 25 for Bauman and 22 for Ellis, meaning that the election result didn't change.

The bitter race mirrors the split between supporters of Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders that played out during last year's primaries. But six months into the term of President Donald Trump, Democrats in California and across the country need to explain to voters why their candidates deserve support in next year's midterm elections. Democratic control of at least one body of Congress is critical to stopping Trump's horrid agenda, and there are several congressional seats in the Golden State that the Democratic Party is working to flip in 2018. But an organized state party is vital to electoral success, and with the distraction of an intraparty fight, it's going to be that much tougher to unite. Ellis isn't helping anyone, including herself, with her stubborn refusal to accept her loss.

"While I, perhaps more than anyone, want immediate closure, I also understand my tremendous responsibility to the thousands of delegates and supporters who are counting on us to see this through to its final conclusion. No doubt, this is not the easier path, but often times the righteous one is not," she wrote in a fundraising plea to supporters, according to the Times. "To turn away now would be a betrayal to my own sense of integrity and ethics."

Yet conceding the race is exactly what Ellis should do – she should be putting the party ahead of herself and so far, she has not done that. In fact, Ellis' actions have been entirely counterproductive and she runs the risk of appearing a sore loser.

Ellis may have a future in state Democratic politics, but not if she refuses to accept reality. Her responsibility to her supporters would be better served by working with grassroots organizations to make the state party more responsive to their needs, not continuing to bash party leaders and stoke doubt about the election's outcome. Democrats are busily recruiting candidates to run in congressional districts currently represented by vulnerable Republicans. More outreach is needed in inland areas of the state; in short, there's plenty to do, even in deep blue California.

Ellis fell short of votes. She needs to move on to focus on strengthening her base to make the party stronger.