Transgender actress Laverne Cox believes that Donald Trump’s ban on transgender people serving in the United States military “further stigmatizes” transgender people and treats them “as if we are less than human.”
“It makes me want to scream but I’m going to try not to scream,” Cox told TheWrap on Thursday. “It’s really, really frustrating and it further stigmatizes us and it further places us in positions where we are treated as if we are less than human.
The “Orange Is the New Black” star went on to send a message to the trans people out there who are struggling. “I always say to you that your lives matter, your voices matter and that you are loved and that you are here for a divine purpose and I believe that … You cannot let anybody, not even the President of the United States, tell you that you are not divine and that you are not worthy.
Cox’s reaction comes after Trump announced the ban on Twitter Wednesday morning, citing medical expenses as a driving force for the decision.
Members of the transgender community have been able to serve openly in the military since last year, when then-Defense Secretary Ash Carter ended the ban. Roughly 4,000 transgender troops are already serving openly, according to CNN. It’s now unclear what now happens them, although the military said Thursday that the policy on “who is allowed to serve will not change until the White House sends the Defense Department a rules change and the secretary of defense issues new guidelines.”
While she tries to be emphatic when talking politics, Cox told TheWrap that, “I’m really tired of being loving and magnanimous in this current political environment when people’s lives are at stake,” citing stats stating that 50 percent of transgender youth and 40 percent of transgender people attempt suicide.
Cox blames those high rates on a “cultural context that deeply stigmatizes us, tells us that we’re mentally ill, that we don’t exist, that we should not exist and when the President of the United States sends that message, it reinforces that stigma. It reinforces that shame,” she said. “A lot of trans folk who find themselves in the military are there because they want to serve their country but they need work, they want jobs.”
Cox went on to tell TheWrap: “There are certainly folks out there who don’t think transgender people should exist, that our lives don’t matter, and I think there are a lot of cynical politicians who are using that in introducing those bills and scapegoating us and using us as a wedge issue.
However, “we are real people, many of us are struggling to make a living, to have a sense of dignity and self worth in the world, to just be ourselves … More than ever, we are seeing that elections have consequences. We cannot become complacent …We are seeing that history can be rolled back, that progress can be rolled back, so we have to stay woke, we have to resist and we must vote,” she said.
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