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Dear Mr. President,

It was exactly two years ago this month that my older brother came out to us, his family, and the world as transgender. It’s been a long journey and although our family is still adjusting to the transition, the entire community, from her siblings to her coworkers, from our mom all the way down to her ex-wife, have come out full-force in support of this plight for a truer, more genuine identity.  What rises to the surface from this experience for me has been witnessing my sister’s sheer strength in moving forward despite the many, many difficulties that come with such a path. As you may know, transgender people don’t choose to be transgender, just as gays don’t choose to be gay; it’s who they genuinely are. Coming out is a path only for the courageous. Having witnessed her transition firsthand, I can attest that it takes a mountain of bravery to stand one’s ground and reveal your true nature to the world, despite every force in society telling you otherwise.

Understandably, this week, I was saddened, but not shocked, to read your tweets concerning transgender people, stating “That the United States Government will not accept or allow Transgender individuals to serve in any capacity in the U.S. Military.” and you gave two very weak excuses for this, so called “ban.” One, being the tremendous medical costs and two, being the supposed “disruption that transgender in the military would entail.”

If your concern were really costs, Mr. President, then instead you would be looking into possibly streamlining our military spending, not banning transgender folks from the military. In 2015, for example, the four branches of the U.S. military spent a total of almost $600 billion on defense. $600 billion! This is so beyond excessive for when compared to the rest of the world, the United States accounted for 37 percent of the total. In other words, our expenditures for defense total the next seven largest military budgets around the world combined. And don’t even get me started on how much it costs to protect you daily. Or how much the Defense Department apparently spends on Viagra. Obviously, money is not the real issue.

Now onto your second reason to exclude transgender individuals from the military. Disruptions you say? Wrong again. Right now, there seems to be a much more pressing “disruption” in the military, that one glaring disruption being rape, rape and the fear of rape. Service members reported 6,172 cases of sexual assault in 2016. Fifty-eight percent of victims expressed a fear of reprisals or retaliation for reporting sexual assault. Would this not be considered a huge disruption to service members and to mission readiness?  Rape and the fear of rape and harassment are not imagined disruptions, like the one you concocted around transgender individuals. If your concern were really disruptions to our active personnel, why isn’t this issue firing-up your tweeting’ fingers at 2 a.m., Mr. President?

Your constituents, like myself,  know a distractionary tactic when we see one, and this is one of those easily divisive grenade topics guaranteed to cause many days’ worth of media distractions away from the real problems that plague this country, such as lack of health care, poverty, discrimination, your awful immigration policies, and police brutality, to name a few. I’m here to tell you that we, your constituents, are not falling for this cheap tactic, Mr. President.  Time to dig deep and focus on real problems. But know this: transgender folks, like my sister, are neither a money pit nor a distraction.




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