Transgender equality regresses in Trump’s America

By Grant Berg, Contributor

In December, the “Washington Post” broke a story on the CDC ban on seven distinct words. Among them was the word “transgender.” As a transgender man living in Trump’s America, it has been a wild ride of unforseen ups and downs. While the CDC ban has since been chalked up to nothing more than an internal attempt within the CDC to save research projects from getting their budget slashed by the administration, this underlines an old problem that transgender men and women are facing once again: suppression.

The CDC ban matters incredibly because while the directive itself might not have been handed directly from a Trump staffer to the CDC head, scientists and researchers alike have begun taking it onto themselves to watch their language like school children in hopes that they can continue to better the lives of minorities in the country while the voices of the minority themselves are silenced within and outside of the administration.
Another example: over the summer, Trump informally announced the ban on trans recruits joining the military. This didn’t last long; as of Jan. 1, all branches of the military are required to accept trans recruits. However, that doesn’t mean the fight for trans equality is over.
Trump has set back preparations and privacy guidelines for trans recruits which were already moving at a dramatically slow pace as it was, months from where they were beforehand. As someone who frequently talks to military recruiters, it was clear how confusing this new directive was. One female Marine recruiter looked at me pityingly and apologized profusely for not knowing anything, but encouraged me to join anyways. Another attempt to join the armed forces came with the University of Minnesota ROTC department when I had a lovely meeting with one of the directors of the program who burst with laughter and shouted, “We love transgendereds!” when I asked how the ban would affect my admission to the program.
As trans allies, Augsburg’s community needs to pay incredibly close attention. Trans men and women are at dramatically high risk of suicide. Around 42% of transgender men attempted suicide while trans women hover around 43% according to the Williams Institute. This is doubled if they also happen to be a person of color. In order for Augsburg and the rest of the country to heal from this current administration, we need to start the work now. Calling your representatives, talking to your community members, and openly discussing trans rights are crucial to the better treatment and the betterment of trans lives.
Augsburg has an amazing track record compared to other universities when it comes to LGBT support, but there’s always room for improvement. Stand up for your community, stand up for the people you learn and thrive around because this is the only way we will be able to fight back against the cycle of oppression so prominent today.

This article first appeared in the Friday, January 19, 2018, Edition of The Echo.