Trump's Troop Ban Is Part of a Long, Dark History of Accusing Trans People of Threatening National StabilityRoundup
tags: national security, military history, transgender rights
Julio Capó Jr. is associate professor of history at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. He is author of Welcome to Fairyland: Queer Miami before 1940 and curator of Queer Miami: A History of LGBTQ Communities for HistoryMiami Museum.
Since the U.S. Supreme Court ruled last Tuesday that the Trump Administration can begin to enforce its restrictions on transgender people serving in the military, the thousands of trans people who are on active duty have been left wondering what their futures hold. The Administration’s policy means that those who do not serve “in their biological sex” face discharge, but it’s not yet clear how that will play out in practice. But, though the dubious idea of set, binary sexes is rejected by research, this policy is unsurprising given that it is not the only effort by the Administration to erase trans people from national life.
But in fact, people gendered differently from what was assigned to them at birth have served in the American military since at least the 18th century. Trying to purge them from that history is nothing new either: the state has long sought to brand trans and queer people as threats to national security and stability.
Sixty years ago, a transsexual woman named Charlotte F. McLeod — who served in the U.S. Army in the late 1940s before receiving a medical discharge — challenged the state’s attempt to define her gender and exclude her from practices and institutions associated with citizenship.
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