“I am not a burden,” a Trans Vet Responds to Trump

Outraged by the recent messages from the president, Howard Brown Health turned to one of its own to express our shock and dismay.

by Tatyana Moaton, Diversity & Inclusion Services Coordinator, Howard Brown Health

As a transgender woman who is a veteran, I was both elated and felt a sense of relief when the Obama Administration made a decision to allow transgender military members to serve openly. Finally, people would no longer have to make the choice to either be true to who they are, or serve their country.

On July 27, when Donald Trump threatened the safety and positions of transgender service members, he basically said to trans soldiers that although you are American, you are not fit to serve this country. Not only is this wrong, but it is cruel. The mere fact that I am transgender does not mean that I am any less adept at serving this country as anyone else.

When we are in basic training we are taught that you are a soldier first. Your job is secondary. In combat, it doesn’t matter whether you are a cook or in an administrative role, we are all trained to defend our country. We all are taught the same basic principles and skills in combat. The notion that it would cost this country any more to allow transgender soldiers to serve is a foolish one and irresponsible agenda.  Trans people have always served the United States, and the cost was no greater than the next service member. The cost of having to suppress or try to suppress who we are is actually the greatest cost of all.

The recent tweets against transgender service members attempt to justify discrimination based partly on healthcare costs. Simultaneously, the United States Senate is currently attempting to strip away healthcare from millions. Repealing the Affordable Care Act, a law that has increased access to healthcare for transgender people, would further place our lives at risk. The Affordable Care Act has provided trans individuals a better chance at accessing healthcare, including being able to make a more informed decision about your hormone therapy and not having to go to the black market for treatment.

My community is vulnerable to discrimination, but to have our president and our Congress actively trying to strip away our safety nets is a heightened, aggressive form of harm. When our elected officials encourage discrimination against my community, we are even more vulnerable to violence. When they strip away our humanity, others feel it’s OK and trans people are made even more unsafe. We are living during a time where violence against trans individuals is at an all-time high. Each day that trans people step out of their doors, they have to think, “Will I be the one to die today?” As a society interested in progress, we should all be shocked, alarmed, and dismayed by a government that blatantly condones discrimination.

I enlisted in the military not because I was forced to by a draft, but because I felt a duty to fight for the rights and liberties that we enjoy each and every day! I stood in the Military Entrance Processing Station in Indianapolis, IN and took an oath that says “I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic.” My trans brothers and sisters have fought and died for this country right alongside our cisgender brothers and sisters. When you are in the trenches of war and on the battlefield, you don’t have time to care about what a person’s gender identity or sexual orientation is; what matters is that your battle buddy will have your back. Being able to serve openly and freely is a basic human right that we all should be afforded no matter our gender identity or expression. What President Trump has done has basically said to people like me, “You are fit to pay taxes, but not fit to serve.”

Trans individuals give to this country just as much as any other American citizen. We are productive tax paying citizens, who love this country just as much as everyone else! We don’t want special treatment; we just want fair and equal treatment.

Tatyana Moaton was born and raised in Chicago, IL. She served in the U.S. Army from 1995-2003 as a 35F Military Intelligence Analyst with the 332nd CSB in Danville, IL. Tatyana graduated from the University of Wisconsin with both a Bachelor of Science in Psychology and Masters of Business – Human Resources Management from the Sheldon B. Lubar School of Business and is proficient in 3 foreign languages Spanish, French and Portuguese. Currently, Tatyana is employed as the Diversity and Inclusion Services Coordinator for Howard Brown Health. She strongly believes that trans rights are human rights and fights daily for inclusion of trans individuals in roles of leadership. Daily affirmation “I will continue to fight because I know that I’ll one day meet someone who isn’t strong enough to fight the same battle I’ve won.”



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