You’ve just made America both less brave and less free

Dear President Trump,

I don’t know about you, but “The Star Spangled Banner” lyrics “o’er the land of the free and the home of the brave” always make me tear up (does anything make you tear up?). The notes climb so high and the singer has to be absolutely flawless to pull off “free” up in the stratosphere; one little tiny hesitation and the whole line falls apart. The sentiment behind the lyrics is moving too — the idea that two cornerstones of what it is to be an American are freedom and bravery. Obviously it is aspirational (which your spellcheck doesn’t recognize, of course) to say that America is the land of free, brave people and it was complete bullshit when it was written in 1814 since slavery was still well in place and women didn’t have the vote, couldn’t divorce abusive husbands, and couldn’t own property (and children were chattel too). Also, it is absurd to say that any one land is the land of the free and the home of the brave as though no other land could be home to free, brave people, but it’s still moving even if it really shouldn’t be.

All this is really just to lead to my main point, which is to ask, how dare you? How dare you take away the right of trans people to serve in the military? This is one of the bravest groups of people on the planet and you are pulling the rug out from under them, telling them “oh, just kidding you really aren’t free to be yourselves and serve your country.” I have had the amazing honor to work with several veterans who are trans and the courage they mustered to be true to themselves is beyond anything most of us mere mortals could ever hope to have. I have been proud to work for the VA as it has made incredible strides in overtly welcoming and accepting of LGBTQ veterans and although there are still pockets of bigotry here and there, it has made a huge difference to these vets’ quality of life and overall health, as has being able to serve in the military openly. Your move to shred this progress is cowardly and is clearly kowtowing to the monied conservative factions; it has nothing to do with the medical costs of allowing trans people to serve. You’ve just made America both less brave and less free.

May we all be safe to be our whole selves.
May we all be happy to let others be themselves.
May we all have healthy egos that are not threatened by people we don’t understand.
May all our lives unfold and intersect with mutual respect, grace, kindness, and love.

Tracy Simpson

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