Welcome to our special section, Thrive on Campus, devoted to covering the urgent issue of mental health among college and university students from all angles. If you are a college student, we invite you to apply to be an Editor-at-Large, or to simply contribute (please tag your pieces ThriveOnCampus). We welcome faculty, clinicians, and graduates to contribute as well. Read more here.
It’s 2019, and yet headlines are reading: SCOTUS ban on trans military service. How do we deal with this kind of injustice? What can we do?
The supreme court has reversed Obama’s 2016 policy to open the military to transgender service members. The Trump administration’s policy to bar transgender people from the armed forces was upheld in a five to four vote.
For full transparency, I will make my bias known. I believe this country is ours, and it is ours to shape. Our freedoms are not inherent; they are earned each and every day by the brave men and women who protect us in the armed forces. Trans rights are human rights.
“The Obama administration will go down in history as one of the most significant for LGBT Americans,” said Sue Fulton, president of the LGBT military group SPARTA. “I think it’s impossible to understate the impact that this administration has had.”
Yet, the Trump administration continuously unravels generations of progress, exploiting gross nostalgia and ignorance to deny human rights.
What I have to say is simple. Trans people and allies will not be silenced and #WontBeErased.
So where do we go from here? What can we do?
1) Educate Yourself
Transgender people have been serving openly in the military for years. In fact, the U.S. military is the number one employer of trans people in the nation, and the VA is one of the largest providers of health care for trans people in the nation. With this in mind, the government is still yet to present any concrete evidence that trans people’s courageous service harms or endangers the country in any way.
“The Trump administration’s cruel obsession with ridding our military of dedicated and capable service members because they happen to be transgender defies reason and cannot survive legal review.” ~Jennifer L. Levi, the director of the Transgender Rights Project of GLBTQ Legal Advocates and Defenders
In the status quo, no military policy denies a class of peopling from enlisting or serving in the military if they are qualified to do the job.
Over 9,000 trans troops are (and have been) serving our country.
So I think this meets the burden of sufficient qualification and capability.
The Trump administartion’s discrimination judges individuals on their identity when what truly matters is their service and commitment to the job. Transgender people are citizens (like any other person in uniform), and their service is their career. The policy comes from Trump, the same man who avoided fighting in the Vietnam War by getting five deferments. Additionally, a RAND Corporation study has already concluded that allowing transgender troops to remain would have “minimal impact” on health care costs and national security.
To stay up to date on all the cases, research, and policies, continue reading the news, and make sure you are getting your news from more than one source! This blog post here cannot be comprehensive on such an ever evolving and complex issue. For further education, screen or stream the incredible Trans Military Doc.
After eduation, know how YOU can take ACTION with LBTQ Legal Advocates & Defenders and The National Center for Lesbian Rights’ resources. Sign their petition here, share your story here, or donate here if you are able! And, please, take a moment to show your support by sharing this article on social media as well.
2) Offer Emotional Support
Things like this aren’t easy to read (and definitely aren’t easy to live through).
“Thousands of brave transgender troops around the world are currently serving our nation with honor,” said Rick Zbur, Executive Director at Equality California. “Their patriotism and sacrifice should be celebrated, not cruelly dismissed by a president who clearly cares more about delivering on campaign promises than he does about our national security.”
During hard times it is important that we lean on each other. If you see a friend struggling, check in with them and remind them that you are there for them. Little gestures can go a long way. Sometimes all we need is a good listener. That said, if you feel overburdened yourself, don’t forget professional resources exist.
3) Seek Emotional Support
At the end of the day, we all share this country and this world. We all are more similar than we are different, and real scientific research supports this claim.
“At work I wear a rainbow bracelet. Sometimes it raises eyebrows, but it also raises awareness.There’s so many transgender people — especially women of color — that are just one demeaning comment away from taking their own lives. Forty percent of us attempt suicide. If you’re listening and you feel like you have no other option, try to call a friend, go online or try to get in a support group. If you’re a woman who’s not transgender but you know pain of isolation, of sexual assault — reach out. So what does it mean to be a woman? The latest research is showing that female and male brains do develop differently in the womb, possibly giving us females this innate sense of being a woman. On the other hand,maybe it’s our shared sense of commonality that makes us women. We come in so many different shapes and sizes that asking what it means to be a woman may not be the right question. It’s like asking a calico cat what it means to be a calico cat. Maybe becoming a woman means accepting ourselves for who we really are and acknowledging the same in each other.”Karissa Sanbonmatsu, structural biologist and transgender woman
There is absolutely no shame in seeking emotional support. In fact, it is one of the greatest signs of strength. Vulnerability leads to healing.
The Trevor Project has a 24-hour hotline (866) 488–7386 that offers counseling. Transgender Suicide Prevention Lifeline (877) 565–8860 is run by fellow transgender volunteers wanting to give back to their community. No matter what absolutely never forget that you are not alone. It’s easy to feel hopeless in such a hostile political climate. But hope does exist. Don’t feel like you have to solve all the worlds problems in one day. What matters today is that we are kind to each other and that we are kind to ourselves. We will get through this!
So even though it’s painful, even though it’s not always pretty, and even though it’s 2019, we must not fall into apathy. We must keep educating ourself, we must read the news, and we must take action.
Subscribe here for all the latest news on how you can keep Thriving.
More on Mental Health on Campus:
What Campus Mental Health Centers Are Doing to Keep Up With Student Need
If You’re a Student Who’s Struggling With Mental Health, These 7 Tips Will Help
The Hidden Stress of RAs in the Student Mental Health Crisis