St. Louis LGBTQ supporters decry Trump's tweets against transgender troops
President Donald Trump’s tweets announcing his plan to prevent transgender Americans from serving in the U.S. military fueled another rally in St. Louis.
On Sunday, several hundred advocates of LGBTQ rights, including some veterans, gathered at the Transgender Memorial Garden on 1469 S. Vandeventer Ave. to rally in support of transgender members of the military. Participants waved both transgender and American flags, and held signs that read “love makes a family,” “trans rights are human rights,” and “this is not OK.”
In posts on Twitter last week, the president stated that the nation’s armed forces “cannot be burdened with the tremendous medical costs and disruption that transgender in the military would entail.”
After consultation with my Generals and military experts, please be advised that the United States Government will not accept or allow......— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 26, 2017
....Transgender individuals to serve in any capacity in the U.S. Military. Our military must be focused on decisive and overwhelming.....— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 26, 2017
....victory and cannot be burdened with the tremendous medical costs and disruption that transgender in the military would entail. Thank you— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 26, 2017
People at the rally spoke out against the president’s announcement. Among them was National Guard veteran Cathy Serino, who is transgender.
She began her military duty during the 1980s, when transgender people could not openly serve. Serino, who kept her gender identity secret at the time, said Sunday that it affected her ability to perform to the best of her ability.
“It was really distracting from being able to do my job,” she said. “I was always good at my jobs, but I would have been able to be better because I wouldn’t have had that weight on my shoulders and worry constantly.”
About 15,500 active duty soldiers and members of the National Guard and Reserve forces are transgender, according to the Williams Institute, a think tank at the UCLA School of Law.
Serino said she felt as if the president spat in her face, ignoring her 12 years of military service. She spoke at the rally, calling on the entire community to support the LGBTQ family, friends and neighbors and become more involved in advocating for LGBTQ rights.
“I’m basically doing it not so much for myself. I’m 50 years old,” she said. “I’m doing this for my grandchildren’s generation, so hopefully they don’t grow up with the same hate and discrimination I did.”
Local band Yesterday's Paper performed at the rally, which concluded with a march along Vandeventer Avenue from the Transgender Memorial Garden to Rehab Bar & Grill on Manchester Avenue.
Digital editor Brit Hanson contributed to this report.
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