BY ED SIKOV | Rump’s nonexistent relationship to the truth is no longer news and hasn’t been for a very long time. But I’m still compelled to point out proof of it simply because it’s what journalists do. During his lie-filled campaign for the presidency, Rump stated, among other things, that the LGBTQ community would find him to be our best friend, our buddy, our pal. Since his presidency began, however, he has done nothing but put forth bigoted policies and nominate bigoted people to implement them.
His most recent betrayal came in the form of a ban on transgender people serving in the military. The White House issued a statement late Friday evening — prime time for dumping news nobody in power wants to publicize — stating, in part: “Among other things, the policies set forth by the Secretary of Defense state that transgender persons with a history or diagnosis of gender dysphoria — individuals who the policies state may require substantial medical treatment, including medications and surgery — are disqualified from military service except under certain limited circumstances.”
As Politico’s Jacqueline Klimas and Bryan Bender note, “The decision comes after a number of top military officials over the past year — including most members of the Joint Chiefs of Staff — have gone out of their way to defend the thousands of transgender troops who are believed to be serving in the military.”
It is a sad day indeed when the military brass prove to be more enlightened than the president.
The new policy must go through the courts before it can be implemented, so for now, at least, trans soldiers can’t be summarily tossed out just for living authentic lives.
My own reading of Rump’s transphobia is that he particularly resents trans servicemembers’ ability (as he would describe it) to take unfair advantage of their right to medical care as members of the armed services. The memo’s standout sentence describes “individuals who… may require substantial medical treatment, including medications and surgery.” Change “individuals” to “soldiers” and see how the sentence reads.
More to the point, how is this any different from the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC), which provides scholarships to college and university students in exchange for the promise of at least four years of military service upon graduation? ROTC students pledge to serve in the armed forces in exchange — in all instances — for college tuition; trans soldiers pledge to serve in exchange — in some instances — for medicine and/ or surgery. Both deals seem fair to me, especially in an era when the future soldiers sign these pledges in the context of the perpetual state of war in which the US is actively engaged, let alone the terrifying threat of practically imminent wars with both Iran and North Korea that fill our fat, elderly president’s childish imagination along with that of his awful new national security advisor, John “I am the Walrus” Bolton. Trans folks who enlist put their lives on the line, just like every other recruit.
In late February, Michelangelo Signorile published a piece in the Huffington Post in which he chronicled a confrontation he had with the Log Cabin Republicans’ head (or better, ass), Gregory T. Angelo, about Rump’s many actions against the LBGTQ community. Angelo had once told Signorile that President Donald Trump was “the most pro-LGBT Republican president in history.”
“That was less than two months after the president’s inauguration,” Signorile wrote of his initial exchange with Angelo, adding about a second conversation with the LCR chief this February, “What about now, after Trump and his administration announced a ban on transgender people in the military; fired the entire presidential AIDS Commission; decided not to collect data on LGBTQ people in the Census [though this past September, NPR reported that at least one question on sexual orientation would be included in one Census questionnaire]; pulled questions about LGBTQ seniors in a health survey on the elderly; supported employer discrimination against LGBTQ people; backed allowing discrimination in public accommodations against LGBTQ people; appointed anti-LGBTQ judges to federal courts; and said he would stop investigating discrimination against trans students in bathrooms, among many other hostile actions?”
No surprise: Angelo doubled down on his defense of Rump, which is why the Log Cabin Republicans are to politics as Log Cabin Syrup is to genuine maple.
Rump, Angelo proclaimed, was a “pro-LGBT” president. He must be living on Uranus. Better check the area for stray Angelos the next time you get naked.
Signorile continues his chronicle: “‘The facts speak for themselves,’ Angelo responded. ‘I don’t want to keep belaboring these points, but: [Trump] entered the White House as first president saying he supports that marriage equality is settled law of the land, sent a letter of congratulations and commemoration [on Log Cabin’s 40th anniversary], and has people in his Cabinet who support marriage equality.’”
Okay, let’s review. First, Rump accepts the settled law of the land as the settled law of the land. Then, he sends a letter. Finally, he appoints people who accept settled law.
“It’s hard to imagine how much lower the bar could be set,” Signorile concluded.
Comedy relief: You just know you’re in for a good time when you see the headline, “When Two Bunnies Love Each Other Very Much, and Troll the Pences” in the New York Times. The article, by Liam Stack, begins, “This is the story of a little gay bunny. A little gay bunny who belongs to Vice President Mike Pence. A little fictional gay bunny whose book is beating the memoir of James B. Comey, the former FBI director, on the Amazon best-seller list.”
Stack continues: “This is the story of Marlon Bundo, the Instagram star and real-life pet of the vice president’s family, who is also the subject of two dueling children’s books released this week. The first, ‘Marlon Bundo’s Day in the Life of the Vice President,’ is a picture book written by Mr. Pence’s daughter Charlotte that focuses on the bunny’s observations of the vice president, with illustrations by his wife, Karen. The other, ‘Last Week Tonight With John Oliver Presents a Day in the Life of Marlon Bundo,’ is a gay romance between two bunnies that was the brainchild of the HBO comedy host John Oliver. So far, that is the more popular of the two.”
Of course it is.
“Mr. Oliver revealed the book, which was written by Jill Twiss and credits the titular bunny as a co-author, on his weekly late-night show on Sunday,” Stack writes. “He described it as a mocking rebuke of the vice president’s longtime opposition to gay and transgender rights... In it, Marlon Bundo, a snappily dressed bunny with a penchant for bright bow ties, falls in love with a bespectacled boy bunny named Wesley. Things seem to be going pretty well for the two lovebirds (love bunnies?) until a powerful stinkbug who bears a striking resemblance to Mr. Pence decrees that male bunnies cannot marry each other… Mr. Oliver said all of his book’s profits would be donated to The Trevor Project, a charity for LGBT youth, and AIDS United.”
This reminds me of the brilliant toss-away moment in George A. Romero’s horror masterpiece “Dawn of the Dead” (1978) when, as the world descends into gory chaos, a radio host (seen in a rapidly deteriorating broadcasting studio as technicians abandon their posts and run futilely for their lives), sets up a story he doesn’t get to tell by saying something on the order of, “In these difficult times, it’s good to know that some people haven’t lost their sense of humor.”
I haven’t lost mine; I hope you haven’t lost yours.
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