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Protesters gather at White House to oppose Trump’s transgender ban

Madeleine Cook | Hatchet Staff Photographer
Ann Murdoch, a transgender woman and retired Lieutenant Colonel who served in the Army for more than 24 years, marches towards the White House in protest of President Donald Trump’s Twitter announcement banning transgender service members.

Updated: July 31, 2017 at 10:04 p.m.

Hundreds gathered in front of the White House Saturday morning to protest President Donald Trump’s tweets announcing that he would ban transgender people from serving in the U.S. military.

Protestors said that the goal of the rally was to bring awareness to the struggles that transgender people face on a daily basis and clear up misconceptions about transgender troops. The protest comes after Trump tweeted Wednesday that the U.S. government would not “accept or allow” transgender people to serve in the military, but the Pentagon has not yet taken steps to enforce the ban.

“Trans people are not burdens. Our collective response is what will shift the narrative of state sanctioned violence that impacts the lives of trans folk,” the event’s facebook page said.

The event also served as a fundraiser for TransWomen Color Collective, a grass-roots funded global initiative created to offer opportunities for trans people of color.

Protesters held up signs with phrases like “Trans rights are human rights,” and “We support all our troops.” Others chanted slogans like “When trans people are under attack, what do we do? Unite, fight back.”

Speakers at the protest included former political appointees, students and members of nonprofits around the District. Lourdes Ashley Hunter, the executive director of TWOCC, spoke to protesters about what it means to support the trans community and how the recent ban is an issue that affects everyone.

“This is an issue of humanity,” Hunter said. “Today is not about supporting imperialism. This is about supporting trans people and their ability to do whatever they want to do with their lives. Silence is an act of violence.”

Other student organizations like CUAllies, a campus advocacy group for equal representation and treatment of LGBTQ students at Catholic University, were also in attendance and brought speakers to the event. Although not officially recognized by Catholic University’s administration, the student group encourages members of the university to get involved by supporting marginalized communities.

“We, as young people, need to get involved,” Kristina Pinault, a student at Catholic and a member of CUAllies, said. “The responsibility is on our shoulders because at the end of the day, we’re the ones who have to stand up and act for the next 40 years.”

Last week, Students Against Sexual Assault and GW College Democrats released statements condemning Trump’s Twitter announcement.

Speakers at the protest criticized the presidential administration for taking away current and future transgender service members’ choice to serve in the military.

Alexandra Chandler, a transgender woman and employee at the Office of Naval Intelligence, said that it is wrong that some supporters of the ban have referred to the Obama administration decision to let trans people serve in the military as a “social experiment.”

“We have been openly serving for the past year. It would be bigotry to change that,” she said. “When it comes to investing hundreds of thousands of dollars of training, it’s a bad deal to throw those people out.”

Chandler said that diversity is an important aspect of the job and should continue to be valued in the current political environment.

“When we fully include everyone in our schools and in our police forces and in our military think of what we can achieve,” she said. “Keep going and don’t give up hope.”

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