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Buffalo’s transgender community critical of Trump’s transgender military ban

WBFO News file photo by Eileen Buckley

Many are speaking out against President Trump for saying he will bar transgender individuals from serving in the military.  WBFO's Senior Reporter spoke with two local members of Buffalo's transgender community for their reaction.  

"Knock it off -- quit lying about everything. We are here. We exist and we live and we have a right to fight for our country," responded Diana Patton.

Patton is with the Spectrum Transgender Group of Western New York and the We Exist Coalition. She served in the U.S. Navy while still living as a  man before transitioning at the age of 35, from 1992 to 1995, receiving an honorable discharge for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.

Patton reacted with great criticism to Trump's call to ban transgender serving in "any capacity" in the U.S. military.

"If he ends up doing an executive order on this -- the people who are already openly serving -- because there are people openly serving now because of Obama's orders -- what's going to happen to them -- are they just going to be dismissed out of the military? That's putting them in harms way because you are saying they are dishonorable," remarked Patton.

In a Trump tweet Wednesday, he said he consulted with generals and military experts saying  the military cannot be burdened by what he claims are "tremendous medical costs" and "disruptions" that transgender military members would cause.

"Well I'm wondering are we going to go back to a like 'don't ask, don't tell' situation," stated Camille Hopkins. "This is a total surprise and disappointment."

Hopkins is also a member of Buffalo's transgender community. She said transgender members have been allowed to openly serve in the U.S. military since last year after the Obama administration ended a ban.

"And that they serve in the military at twice the rate of the general population. There's an estimate that there’s over 7,000 transgender individuals currently serving in the military," Hopkins stated.

A protest is being planned for this Saturday outside Buffalo's federal building on South Elmwood between 10 a.m. and noon.