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Allow Transgender People to Serve

Two days ago I met an 18-year-old by the name of Paul, who requested that I do not disclose his last name. He told me that, currently, he is too devastated to share his story — so I felt compelled to take it upon myself to do so.

When Paul was 13, he underwent major depression. He described to me that his days were “dark and blurry.” He lacked the motivation to get out of bed, attend school or even eat. So when his parents began to worry, they took him to see a doctor — who prescribed him anti-depression medication.

But still, he did not feel right about himself. He knew that his life was a lie. He understood that his depression, sadness and agony were rooted in the fight with his gender identity. He could no longer live as a woman; he knew that he needed to make a change for himself — for his mental health.

Soon after, he began transitioning. He altered his name to Paul, asked people to refer to him by male pronouns and, with the help of his doctor, was administered testosterone through skin patches. For the first time in his life, he was happy and comfortable with who he was. And so, once he was 17, he felt ready to follow one of his lifelong dreams: joining the military.

He started a year-long plan: to follow a strict, healthy diet and work out excessively — knowing that he needed to be in great physical shape before enlisting.

But back in July, when he first heard that President Donald Trump declared transgenders would no longer be allowed to serve in the military, he did not know what to make of it. He was at a loss for words. The feeling of sadness and depression, which he felt when he was 13, came back in some ways. He ended his intensive, year-long fit plan.

He was appalled that Trump used the “medical costs” of transgender soldiers as his reasoning. If he would have conducted his research, Trump would have known that the military would spend five times more on Viagra than transgenders’ healthcare, or even that his own too-frequent trips to Mar-A-Lago exceed the costs of transgenders’ medical bills.

The situation improved, however, when a federal judge blocked Trump’s bigoted action. Paul, once again, felt that he could, and should, join the military. So, he re-started his training.

But now, once again, Trump is disgustingly attempting to end his dream. Since Paul still needs to undergo gender-confirmation surgery, the memorandum that Trump just signed attempts to strip Paul from his right to serve his country.

Although I have only recently met Paul, I could tell that he is strong and warrior-like. Our country should not only allow individuals like him to serve, but be grateful that they are willing to help protect our nation.

Our President is currently failing us. By signing the memorandum on Mar. 23, Trump is not only making our country less safe — but is explicitly being prejudice and transphobic.

The fact that our President is allowing individuals like myself to enlist in the military, but not Paul, shows that he does not believe “all [people] are created equal,” as our Declaration of Independence proudly states.

Paul and others in his situation — who have had the courage to defy society and come out as their true selves — should be allowed to fight for this country, just like anyone else. They have clearly, in many ways, shown more courage than our President — whether it be coming out to their friends and family or not caring about society’s opinions.

Trump’s action was purely wrong and immoral, period. But hopefully, the courts and Congress will reverse his decision. The military should be welcoming to all; it should not display any transphobic features.

Featured image via Week Facts

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Written by Noam Haykeen

Noam Haykeen is an immigrant from Israel and currently lives in Los Angeles. Follow him on twitter: @nhaykeen.

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