tim: Tim with short hair, smiling, wearing a black jacket over a white T-shirt (Default)
[personal profile] tim
This is a lightly edited version of some Facebook posts I wrote in July 2017.

In response to the current regime's attempts to purge trans people from the military, "I think everyone should be banned from serving in the military" is a terrible take. If you're cis, and you're saying this, your rhetoric is de-centering trans people and we're going to assume that's not an accident. If you want to criticize US imperialism and militarism, you can do that without hijacking discussion of how the current regime is purging trans people from the public sphere.

Don't be the kind of "ally" who is so uncomfortable centering the needs of the people you claim to support that you derail every trans-centered conversation with "okay, but what if we talked about something that also affects cis people"? This is very similar to when men say "but men get sexually assaulted too" to derail discussions about sexual assault against women. It's not that the statement is false. It's just that the context in which It's used does the word of silencing certain types of conversations.

I think it's fine to choose not to serve in the military because you are anti-imperialism. I have made the same choice for myself. When trans people are banned, we don't really get to make that choice the way cis people do. We deserve to be able to make genuine moral choices and face the consequences, as autonomous moral agents.

In American culture, military service confers a sense of belonging and social integration for many people and denying trans people access to that is an abusive isolation tactic. Again, it's not a form of belonging I choose to affiliate with, but that's because I have the privilege of formal education, a professional job, and other ways to show I'm part of society.

I don't have to support anything about the military to think it's unfair to ask trans people to go first when it comes to foreswearing it. Keeping out trans people does literally nothing to weaken the military-industrial complex: the military would be over if all cis people refused to serve. At the same time that it has no practical effect when it comes to stopping imperialism, it does have a genuine practical effect when it comes to denigrating trans people and encouraging abuse of trans people.

We don't get to choose whether the military exists, in the short term. We do get to choose between addressing the concrete negative effects that the military ban has on all trans people's lives, versus embracing purity and the symbolic value of disavowing involvement with the military.
It matters whether trans people are excluded from public life. When you say that the military ban is a "distraction" from some mythical "real issue", you tell us that you don't think our lives matter and that you think we're disposable. You can be an ally by saying, "I don't think this is a distraction. I think it matters that the regime is targeting an incredibly vulnerable group of people for more harm, which appears to be a first step towards exterminating that group. Trans people are important to me and I don't want to listen to you tell me that they don't matter."
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tim: Tim with short hair, smiling, wearing a black jacket over a white T-shirt (Default)
Tim Chevalier

December 2018

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