Albert H. Fulcher | Editor
As we approach the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Riots, we are being stonewalled once again.
The ability to move forward with our LGBTQ+ rights are ours and they are unalienable. No one, in any capacity, should be able to take them away.
The recent decision by the Supreme Court to allow President Donald Trump’s ban on transgender people serving in our armed forces is intolerable. With a 5-4 vote lifting the injunctions blocking the policy, the conservative new-look Supreme Court and the Trump administration have both shown that they have little to no regard for our transgender community, or the national LGBTQ+ community as a whole.
Fortunately, our military leaders have embraced their transgender service members and fully understand their value to every branch of our armed forces. Hopefully the lower courts will decide in favor of the military trans service members who have petitioned the courts and place this atrocious policy in its deathbed where it belongs for good. However, these multiple cases are not expected to be heard until the fall of this year.
Last week, the Sacramento Bee reported on a statement from Maj. Gen. Matthew Beevers, the assistant adjutant general for the California National Guard. He said that California will not remove its transgender service members from serving. Despite the ban and the recent Supreme Court ruling, Beevers said, “As long as you fight, we don’t care what gender you identify as.”
On Feb. 7, NBC reported that a bipartisan group of lawmakers from both chambers of Congress introduced legislation that would permit transgender service members to continue to serve and to allow transgender people to join the military, describing the Trump policy as discriminatory and one that undermines military readiness.
Interesting fact: The United States armed forces are the largest employer of transgender persons in America.
There are an estimated 15,500 transgender service members serving today in all of our military branches. This number is skewed, as there are many transgender service members not openly serving in the military, especially since the personal attacks leveled on them since Trump took office. They have served valiantly for generations in silence. It is time that they are allowed to serve as their authentic selves.
As much as Trump promised to support the LGBTQ+ community in his 2016 presidential campaign, he has done absolutely nothing to promote, much less protect, our rights as Americans. His policies — along with his association with right-wing radicals, hate groups and people in powerful positions who strongly oppose our rights — are a clear sign that he simply lied to us.
And Mike Pence, our vice president, is one of the strongest influencers in the nation. His beliefs have encouraged some states to pass laws to discriminate our rights to live freely across the country. His support of conversion therapy, Bible studies for morality in public schools and his constant opposition to everything our community stands for is unacceptable for a person in his high state of office.
We’ve come so far, but our community is continuing to be slammed by hate, bigotry and discrimination. As long and hard as we have fought for our rights to live as free Americans, every day we see the great strides we have made trampled — setting us back one large step at a time. It is clearly evident that we are not done fighting and that we have a lot to do as a community to make sure that our rights, and the rights of those that follow, are not jeopardized. Just tolerating our presence in society is not enough.
These actions are an act of war against our community and all generations of the LGBTQ+ community have to align together on the battlefield to ensure our protection. This is a battle of persistence, legislation and taking a stand for peaceful coexistence. The resistance in our society is currently moving upward to higher ranks in society and politics, giving us a stronger voice in places where real change can occur. However, these courageous leaders cannot do this without the people guarding their backs. Unity and visibility are clear factors in bringing change. The world needs to see that we will not go crawling back into the closets that imprisoned us for far too long.
This is not the first setback that we have dealt with and unfortunately, it will not be the last. But now, we have a much stronger foundation. Despite all of the bad politics, rhetoric and hate that we see being spewed, it is more evident today than ever that most people believe we are a core part of American society. There are those who will never change their minds and contrive to believe we do not deserve the same privileges of living in a free world, and they have the right as Americans to hold those beliefs. However, under no circumstances do they have the right to undermine and control our lives. It is our birthright to live open and without restraint.
Our youths are coming out at an age that I never thought I would live to see. You are our future, and we cannot continue to confront this conflict without you. You need to be involved regardless of your age. We, the older generations, are here to guide you with the rich history of combatting against the odds to gain our rights as Americans, and we will fight with you side by side. There were so many before us, and now before you, that made it possible for you to come out at such an early age. Unfortunately, not all youths and adults in our local and national LGBTQ+ population are as safe as they should be.
This battle is as much yours as it is ours, if not more so. The decisions made today will affect the rest of your lives, and far into the future. There can be nothing short of all of us, standing as a people united. It is essential that we set aside the discord of age, the use of added acronyms, different variations of the rainbow flag and the petty things that we as a community squabble over because we come from different generations.
If our transgender family is not safe, then none of us are safe to live our lives freely. These actions that stem from hatred and witlessness will trickle down to every fragment of the LGBTQ+ community. We’ve come too far to allow this to happen.
As a great friend recently told me, “The biggest part of the war is actually the smallest interaction of purposeful ignorance. It spreads fast, like a wildfire.”
We need to put this fire out — now.
—Albert Fulcher can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
(Graphic by www.CanStockPhoto.com)