Dear Donald...


An open letter to Donald Trump. Illustration by Hope McConnell.

Dear Mr Trump,

On July 26, you sent out a divisive series of tweets announcing that the United States Government would no longer allow transgender people to serve in the military.

The US military “cannot be burdened with the tremendous medical costs and disruption that transgender in the military would entail,” you said, albeit misguidedly.

You see, Mr Trump, the cost of gender-related care for transgender service members roughly equates to 0.017 percent of the US Defense Department’s estimated healthcare expenditure of $50 billion[1].

That’s a really small percentage, especially when you compare it to the $84 million spent on Viagra and other erectile dysfunction prescriptions for men in service. Never mind the fact that serving openly has had no discernable impact on the force's preparedness to fight for their country.

Your series of tweets was designed to appeal to the patriotism of military service. You probably gave yourself a bit of a pat on the back, thinking you’d have the support of the public, but the whole thing kind of backfired on you, didn’t it?

At the time of writing this letter, 56 retired military generals and admirals have come forward to join LGBTQ+ advocates, politicians (some conservative) and members of the public in condemning your proposed law change.

But just like your contempt for immigration, affordable healthcare, questioning of your finances and basic human rights, you have made your position clear: Those who don’t fit into your vision of a “great” America, don’t matter – a far cry from your election campaign in which you pledged to fight for LGBTQ+ rights.

And while your rallying cry was to empower the disenfranchised, your supporters are fast learning that you are the one they have to fight to be heard.

What’s so sinister about this sudden and unexpected policy change, Mr Trump, isn’t your trigger-happy tweets, but your readiness to deny the rights of transgender service members as a political move meant to deflect from wider issues like healthcare, or perhaps Russia's hand in the presidential election?

In the end, though, when all is said and done, the unfortunate side effect of your administration isn't just the normalisation of the rhetoric of prejudice, but how it legitimises the hate that follows.

One of your many critics,

River Lin.

[1] https://www.forbes.com/sites/quora/2017/07/27/how-much-does-the-u-s-military-actually-spend-on-transgender-soldiers/#71cad154ca6e