LGBT Members Express Thoughts on Trumps Military Ban

Donald Trump’s Transgender Service Starts Talks

By Victoria Ifatusin

(From left to right) Shawn Nixon, Laura Scazzafavo, Katherine Morris, and Jeremiah Jurkiewicz.

More than two dozen people attended the “We Serve Too” event in 1P’s Lecture Hall on Tuesday, September 12 to be enlightened about President Trump’s decision.

On Wednesday, July 26, President Donald Trump posted three tweets on his Twitter page saying: “After consultation with my generals and military experts, please be advised that the United States government will not accept or allow transgender individuals to serve in any capacity in the US Military. Our Military must be focused on decisive and overwhelming victory and not be burdened with the tremendous medical cost and disruption that transgenders in the military would entail.”

It’s been two months since this ban took place, and on Tuesday, September 12, Jeremiah Jurkiewicz, one of the many infuriated LGBT members of CSI’s faculty, had an in-depth panel discussion about this act.

The event began by having the members of the panel introduce themselves.

On the panel, there was firstly Laura Scazzafavo, Director of Veterans for the College of Staten Island who served in the US Navy for eleven years.

Shawn Nixon, a worker for SAGE (Advocacy & Services for LGBT Elders) who served in the military for eight years and two years in the army reserve was also present.

Lastly, Katherine Morris, a transgender veteran who served for five years, 2009 to 2014, in the US army and is currently a nursing student at the College of Staten Island was also prepared to speak.

Jurkiewicz stated various facts after doing research since this ban had taken place.

“There are approximately 1.3 million active duty service members,” he states, “according to a 2016 grand corporation study commissioned by the Pentagon… Allowing transgender people to serve openly would have minimal impact on readiness and healthcare costs. The estimated healthcare cost would rise to 2.4 million dollars to 8.4 million dollars a year,” which is 0.04 to 0.13 percent, a very small amount.

He further noted that in other countries where transgender troops serve in the army, there is no impact in the spending for troops.

Scazzafavo pointed out that sanitary and hormone treatment is needed for only a small population causing only a small amount of money. Although, not all transgender troops would decide to go on with the hormone treatment.

Morris started her hormone therapy a year before she left the military. She had to pay out of pocket.

Although, she didn’t need it for most of her time in the military and she addressed that there isn’t a hormone therapy for troops within the military. She was not eligible for trans-healthcare because she doesn’t have Medicare or Medicaid.

Before the ban on transgender troops, Nixon addressed that “the military has been taking care of trans and LGBTQ veterans or active duty servants members since its inception.”

Therefore, it was a “hypocritical” surprise for the military to come out with different bans. He says it’s “counterproductive to what’s already put in place.”

Nixon also referred to the “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” policy that was instituted by the Clinton Administration that did not allow LGBT members to serve the country while being “out”.

Jurkiewicz mentioned there were thousands of troops discharged for coming out openly while being a soldier in the army, not allowing transgenders to serve. It was eventually abolished in 2011 during the Obama Administration.

They also made mention of the current status of the ban today. According to Morris, transgenders who are currently in the military are to finish their tenure or contract, but cannot re-enlist to join the army again.

Transgenders who are not in the army and want to join cannot become a soldier. The National Defense Authorization Act submitted an amendment to holt the ban to allow transgenders to serve openly, according to Scazzafavo.

All three people gave their own experiences in serving in the military, although they were all slightly different.

Scazzafavo said she enjoyed her experience, and she “worked with people of different nationalities and diversities.”

Nixon served during the “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” era, although he says it was a “unique” experience. He said they did not care about their sexuality as long as such a soldier did their job.

He said the policy was issued to protect LGBT soldiers because the military cannot be “controlled” or forced to do things they don’t want to do.

He also let audience members know that whatever happens in the civilian life, also happens in the military life.

Morris enjoyed her time in the military too, until the last year.

She mentioned how she had mental health problems and began to attempt suicide, in which she was starting to get issued out because of those problems. She thought about the idea of transitioning and letting her fellow soldiers know about her transition.

According to her, “they were fine with it; they didn’t have a problem.”

She says she got written up for having breast development and bra on under her PT (physical training) uniform.

Although, she found it “degrading” to be in a room with men telling her to remove her bra.

The event eventually ended by taking questions from the audience that shed more light and repeated what was said during the occasion.

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