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City council committee advances resolution opposing trans military ban
by Matt Simonette

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The Chicago City Council Committee on Human Relations passed a resolution on Oct. 4 opposing the Trump administration's ban on military service by transgender individuals.

The motion, titled "Expression of opposition to decision of President Donald J. Trump to ban members of transgender community from military service," passed unanimously and will be forwarded to the entire City Council Oct. 11. It is expected to easily pass since 40 of the 50 members of the City Council are listed as sponsors of the resolution, along with Mayor Rahm Emanuel.

If it does pass, HR Committee Chair Ald. Pat Dowell ( D-3rd ) said it would be sent to the White House, federal and military officials and members of Illinois' congressional delegation.

In testimony, Chicago Commission on Human Relations Commissioner Mona Noriega said that the ban was founded on untruths and perpetuated outdated negative stereotypes, noting that studies found government expenditures on transition-related health expenditures—one of Trump's prime rationales for the ban—would be comparatively small.

"The Trump administration is looking to turn back the clock on nearly 70 years of progress," Noriega said.

Transgender activist Alexis Martinez pointed out the inherent unfairnesses in the government singling out trans persons. "This is a country based on democratic principles," Martinez said. " … There are constitutional rights that we are all under."

Coast guard veteran Matthew Williamson, who said they are non-binary, discussed being closeted while serving in the military: "I wore a mask every day so that I could blend in with other servicemembers."

Elissa Jeffers of Lambda Legal, transgender veteran Vanessa Sheridan of Center on Halsted, Air Force veteran Jean Albright, and Anthony Galloway of Equality Illinois also spoke in favor of the resolution. Lambda Legal has a lawsuit pending against the ban.

"The ban was founded in ignorance and represents an apparent desire to pander to the hatemongers in our society," said Sheridan. "It is mean-spirited, demeaning to the transgender community, and a betrayal to men and women who were already deemed fit to serve—and who stepped up to do so with integrity and honor."

Dr. Brandon Hill, from the University of Chicago Center for Interdisciplinary Inquiry and Innovation in Sexual and Reproductive Health, spoke about research that supports transgender military service.

Tatyana Moaton, Howard Brown Health's diversity and inclusion services coordinator, who is a veteran, also testified. She told Windy City Times that the resolution solidifies Chicago's status as a sanctuary city and "sends a message to transgender veterans, and transgender persons in general, that, 'You are welcome here. You matter. Your healthcare matters. Your life matters.'"

Only one member of the public spoke against the resolution.

Before the meeting focused on the trans issue, a number of individuals who had been recommended to appointment for the city's veteran's advisory council were introduced. Brandon Marty, a veterans rights advocate seeking an appointment, registered his backing for the resolution. "As a veteran and the father of a transgender child, I certainly support that resolution,"he said.

The resolution reads in part: "WHEREAS, A Rand Corporation study commissioned by the Department of Defense estimated that there are fewer than 10,000 members of our armed forces who are transgender, and concluded that allowing members of the transgender community to serve would not impact unit cohesion, operational effectiveness, or readiness; and

"WHEREAS, Notwithstanding the willingness of these transgender troops to voluntarily defend the freedoms we all hold dear. President Donald J. Trump decided, on the 69th anniversary of President Truman's order to integrate the military, that these soldiers can no longer serve in our armed forces . …

"BE IT RESOLVED, That we, the Mayor and Members of the City Council … condemn the arbitrary, divisive, and discriminatory decision by President Donald J. Trump to ban members of the transgender community from serving in the United States military; and

"BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, That suitable copies of this resolution be delivered to President Donald J. Trump, Secretary of Defense James Mattis, Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman John McCain, and House Armed Services Committee Chairman Mac Thornberry."

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