It is a beautiful and warm Wednesday which means it is time for Blogger Candidate Forum. Before we get going on today's topic: the proposed transgender military ban, a word about the escalation of tensions between North Korea and the United States. Honestly, it is like watching two bullies trying to provoke each other from opposite ends of the schoolyard. President Donald Trump is making things difficult with fiery and furious extemporaneous comments that surprised everyone. White House also has not provided any clear diplomatic direction. Fortunately, cooler heads at the State Department; Secretary Rex Tillerson invited the North Koreans to sit down for talks. The question becomes is this a political ploy by POTUS? Scary thought, two thin skinned world leaders with nuclear codes, thumping their chests at each other. Another scary thought is a president tweeting out policy.
This brings us to today's topic: what American mayors can do to resist POTUS's recent policy tweet, permenantly banning all transgender people from the U.S. military. For the record, Blogger is opposed to this proposed ban. POTUS tweeted that the reasons for the ban is transgendered people would compromise readiness and the increased medical costs. Wrong on both counts. The Rand Corporation did a study on the impact of transgendered people in the military; their presencewould have minimal impact. (http://www.rand.org; June 30, 2016; date accessed Aug. 9, 2017). However, what does this have to do with American cities?
This is the question Alastair Boone considers in her CityLab article "The Power of American Mayors to Resist Trump's Transgender Military Ban." The proposed ban caught everyone, including Secretary of Defense James Mattis and the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Ms. Boone quotes Axios reporter Jonathan Swan, who cited an anonymous Trump administration official who said that it was "...cultural move designed to force Rust Belt Democrats to take to a potentially unpopular position defending transgender soldiers,..." (http://www.citylab.com; July 26, 2017; date accessed Aug. 9, 2017). Yet within milliseconds of POTUS's early morning tweet storm, several mayors were ready to take the anonymous official at his word, "...including several in the Rust Belt." The mayors made it extremely clear that they welcome transgender people POTUS may summarily dismiss from the armed forces.
Never at loss for words, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emmanuel said "that president Trump has come down on the wrong side of history," reminding his constituents that July 26, 2017 was the 69th anniversary of Preisdent Harry S. Truman's decision to integrate the military. Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barret declared his support for any American who chooses to serve in the military. Mayor Lovely A. Warren issued a fantastic response:
It seems like our country has been transported back in time with Neanderthal policies coming out of the White House. Donald Trump's attack on transgender service men and women is just latest affront to equality emanating from Washington. In Rochester we stand with and we stand up for our neighbor's. Transgender citizens and all citizens are treated equally in this city...(http://www.cityofrochester.gov; July 26, 2017; date accessed Aug. 9, 2017)
In the bright red state of Arizona, Phoenix Mayor Greg Staton used the occasion to remind his fellow Arizonians that the city immortalized by the great Glen Campbell song, "By The Time I Get To Phoenix," that his city implemented transgender inclusive healthcare.
In the equally bright red state of Texas, San Antonio Mayor Ron Nirenberg issued this statement on the transgender ban:
It's certainly discriminatory. I question its constitutionality. The notion that one's gender is in any way connected to patriotism and service to the country is totally offensive. (http://www.mysanantonio.com; July 26, 2017; date accessed Aug. 9, 2017)
Former San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro tweeted:
Everyone who wants to serve and is qualified to serve should have the opportunity to do regardless of gender identity. (Ibid)
San Antonio is home to three military bases and is deep in the heart of a state that is currently trying to limit access to public toilets for transgender residents-a bill that Mayor Nirenberg testified against in early July. (Ibid)
Alastair Boone reports, "Several mayors of sanctuary cities also came forward to oppose the president's new ban. In these cities, which are already fighting the Trump administration to protect their immigrant residents, many officials have taken measures to protect their transgender residents as well." For example, in 2016 New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio initiated an advertising campaign that "affirmed the legal right to use bathrooms consistent with gender identity in New York City." In responding to the President's twit fit, Mayro de Blasio tweeted his praise for transgender service personnel past and present.
Boston Mayor Marty Walsh called it shameful and un-American to deny people the opportunity to serve their country because of their gender identity. Across the Charles River in Cambridge, Mayor Denise Simmons tweeted "that the ban works against fostering the kind of inclusive country that many have spent their lives fighting for." San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee has been a long time supporter of LGBTQ rights.
Back to the state of Texas, New Hope Mayor Jess Herbst tweeted, "...President Trump's ban contradicts his campaign platform of supporting the LGBTQ community." In February, Mayor Herbst came out as Texas's first openly transgender mayor. Really Mayor Herbst, did you actually think that POTUS was a true supporter of the LGBTQ community?
The escalation of rhetoric between the United States and North Korea comes on the heels of the proposed ban on transgender military ban. It is fascinating to think how many transgender people are capable of stopping an attack on the United States and its territories. As mayors voice their opposition o the proposed ban, it would bode President Donald Trump well to let the members of the Congressional Armed Services Committees, the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and The Pentagon to conduct a thorough study on the impact of transgender service personnel. For now, as long as we have two national leaders thumping their chests at each, we need every able person regardless of gender identity.