Friday, July 28, 2017

In the News: 48 HIlls

SF rally responds to Trump’s transgender military ban

'We put our asses on the line for this country'
Kody Horton stepped up to the mic tonight at Harvey Milk Plaza and delivered a message to Donald Trump:
“Myself and other LGBT veterans put their asses on the line for this country and the Constitution,” the 43-year-old transgender Navy veteran said. “All I ask is for the same goddam rights that we protect your asses for. I did not put my life on the line to be shit on.”
Kody Horton addresses the rally
The plaza was packed with people, shouting and chanting and cheering. The city’s response to Trump’s Twitter announcement that transgender people can’t serve in the military was instant, strong, and visible.
People at the rally were not all fans of the military. Rev. Megan Rohrer said that she’s a pacifist, but that people who want to serve – “when I can’t” – should have the same rights as anyone else. “Our love is bigger than his hate.”
But the message was clear: You can’t call people a “distraction.” As one speaker named Alex noted, “a distraction is what you call it when it’s not your problem.”
I watched a pair of retired military brass tonight on CNN, and the two (straight) white guys said there was no evidence anywhere that transgender soldiers and sailors are a threat to unit coherence or military readiness.

It doesn’t make any difference, Admiral John Kirby said.
That’s the message I heard over and over today: “In close quarters, your lives depend on each other,” Horton told me. “Nobody cares. The only thing you care about is if someone can do the job.”
Horton, a transgender man, served in the Navy from 1992 to 1996, mostly as an aviation technician in San Diego. That was in the Don’t Ask Don’t Tell era, and Horton said he served with a lot of LGBT people.
The crowd packed Harvey Milk Plaza
There was still a climate of fear, he noted, but most sailors knew that some of their colleagues were gay, and it made absolutely no difference to military effectiveness.
Horton went into the Navy in part because the military offered a chance to get an education. After four years, Horton used the GI bill to go to college.
But “I swore an oath to defend the Constitution,” Horton said. And that Constitution protects the right of everyone.
I ran into Theresa Sparks as the rally was turning into a march down Market St. Sparks, who served in the Navy during the Vietnam War, and has been a transgender community activist for many years, told me that the Trump policy is going to terrify a lot of existing service members.
There are, by most estimates, at least 5,000 current active-duty service people who are transgender. “These are people who are dependent on the military for their paycheck, their housing, and their health care,” Sparks said.
Sparks said that the Veterans Administration paid for the hormones she took when she came to San Francisco and began her transition. What happens to the health care of all of those soldiers and sailors if they are suddenly kicked out of the military?
Nobody knows.

Thursday, July 27, 2017

In the News: NPR's All Things Considered

Reaction To Trump's Plan To Ban Transgender People From The Military

The president's announcement that he will ban transgender people from the military is generating strong reaction. Some say it's a diversionary tactic. Others say trans people affect unit cohesion.
Another tweet from President Trump took many by surprise yesterday when he said transgender troops would no longer be allowed to serve in the armed services. Today the Pentagon said it will not change its policies for transgender troops until it gets more details from the White House. Outside of Washington, reaction was strong from critics and supporters alike, as Scott Shafer of member station KQED reports.
UNIDENTIFIED PROTESTER: (Chanting) Trans rights are under attack. What do we do?
UNIDENTIFIED PROTESTERS: (Chanting) Stand up, fight back.
SCOTT SHAFER, BYLINE: Hundreds of demonstrators took to the streets last night in San Francisco's Castro neighborhood, epicenter of the city's LGBT community. Transgender people, veterans, religious leaders all turned out to protest President Trump's new policy on military service.
MEGAN ROHRER: For those who are putting themselves on the line and literally putting their skin at risk, the least we can do is to help them feel comfortable in their bodies as they fight for us.
SHAFER: That's Megan Rohrer, a transgender pastor, who turned out to protest the new policy and Trump's description of transgender troops as a financial burden on the military.
ROHRER: I think that soldiers are anything but a burden. I think they're people who are sacrificing their bodies. And the more that we can do to care for them so that their minds and bodies and spirits are whole and healthy, the stronger our military will be.
SHAFER: Also there Travis Smith, a gay veteran who spent eight years in the Navy.
TRAVIS SMITH: From serving myself in the military with multiple different sexualities of people, I've never seen a burden to the military or how it affected their I guess oath of service. So I just disagree 100 percent.
SHAFER: Of course, the president's announcement has its supporters, too. Retired Air Force veteran Larry Cain, who lives in San Diego, says Trump did the right thing.
LARRY CAIN: In the battlefield, you're there to kill and break things. And we don't need time out to, oh, I'm having a hormone disorder now. I need time out. The cohesion isn't there.
SHAFER: Cain, who served in Vietnam, says he doesn't much care if transgender personnel work office jobs as long as they're kept off the battlefield.
CAIN: It just doesn't work. Too much - not so much resentment 'cause there is skepticism and the perception that you may not be able to count on that conflicted person to be there when you need them.
SHAFER: Studies by the RAND Corporation found that integrating transgender troops into the military would have minimal financial costs and little impact on readiness. Before he retired two years ago, San Franciscan William Reed spent 33 years in the Army and Air Force. He thinks the president's announcement was meant to distract attention from other issues like the Russia investigation. And he says he doesn't trust Trump's judgment on military issues.
WILLIAM REED: Especially for someone who never served before and doesn't understand in the military how you depend on your brother and your sister next to you, and it's irregardless (ph) of what that person is - being black, white, Jewish, whatever.
SHAFER: The president's early-morning tweets leave many questions unanswered, especially for transgender troops currently on active duty. The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff says all service members will continue to be treated with respect. Transgender veterans like Teresa Sparks from San Francisco are worried. Sparks spent eight years in the Navy, including three years in Vietnam. Now she wonders how the new policy could affect people like her.
TERESA SPARKS: Is he going to cut off my benefits because I was a veteran and served? Will I no longer be able to buy a house under the GI Bill? Will I no longer get education benefits? Will I no longer get health care?
SHAFER: Questions like those did not seem to be taken into consideration when the president announced his policy change via Twitter. Those directly affected by it are waiting for answers. For NPR News, I'm Scott Shafer in San Francisco.
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In the News: KTVU

Hundreds rally in the Castro against military transgender ban

- In San Francisco, the transgender community and their supporters protested President Donald Trump's ban on transgender people from serving in the U.S. military by taking to the streets Wednesday night.
Police estimate that a crowd of 600 to 800 gathered at Harvey Milk Plaza in the Castro.
The protest was organized by Rachel Rognerud of San Francisco. She tells KTVU she's not a member of the transgender community but supports its fight for equal rights.

She posted the event on Facebook and it quickly gained support. The mood at the rally was spirited and one of resistance.
"I'm no less a woman because I'm trans," says Layla Wright of San Francisco as she addressed the crowd.
The event was an open mic for transgender men and women along with their supporters to talk about their opposition to the President's ban on transgender people serving in the military.
They say this struggle is about equal rights and the fight for safety and survival in and out of the military.
"Transgender women of color are most at risk for violence, most at risk for being murdered," says Marilyn Murrillo, a transgender woman.
She says she's had a hard time finding a job because of discrimination against the transgender community. 
Supporters say gay rights have made significant strides, but that the same can not be said for the rights of the transgender community.
"Transgender people get left behind. From the beginning, transgender people stood up for gays and lesbians . I think it's important that we remember that," says Greg Morris, who identified himself as a gay man.
"For every war that I might march against, I will support every soldier who comes home and make sure they have health care," says Megan Rohrer, a transgender man.

He is a chaplain for the San Francisco Police Department. Rohrer and others say the President's ban leaves many questions unanswered.What will happen to transgender troops serving now? Will transgender veterans lose their health benefits.

"This measure is to save the country money," says Leo Lacayo of San Francisco. He's a Republican and is a supporter of President Trump.

Lacayo says the military and the federal government should not carry the burden of costs from sex change operations.

"The army is not a social experimentation camp. It is to defend the nation from attack," says Lacayo.
“Why don’t we stop giving people in the federal government Viagra.  That’s many, many times more expensive than the cumulative cost of transgender health care,”  says Theresa Sparks, senior advisor  to San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee on Trans Initiatives. 

During the rally, hundreds chanted "Out of the bars and into the street."
After listening to numerous speakers, the protestors marched along Market Street to City Hall.
"People need to wake up and realize this administration is targeting different minorities of people," says Garrett Montgomery, who marched after attending the rally
Community leaders say the best way to fight back is to hold protests and urge lawmakers to pass legislation that will protect the transgender community.