OCEANSIDE — The city gave formal support to neighboring Camp Pendleton and all transgender military personnel with the passage of a resolution Jan. 10.
The effort was initiated by Max Disposti, founder and executive director of the North County LGBTQ Resource Center located in Oceanside. Disposti said recent tweets and rhetoric of President Trump that question the service of transgender people in the military have had a negative impact on all transgender individuals including youth. This prompted Disposti to take action.
“We live in a community that takes pride in supporting our troops,” Disposti said.
Disposti set out to raise community awareness that comments that single out LGBT individuals invite prejudice and hate. He worked with Deputy Mayor Chuck Lowery and Councilwoman Esther Sanchez to script the resolution.
It begins with the fact that transgender have honorably served in the military since the Civil War. Estimates are 15,500 transgender people served in military active duty, National Guard or Reserve in 2014. Additionally, 134,300 transgender people were veterans or retired National Guard or Reserve.
The resolution goes on to give the history of inclusive military practices, and how they were disrupted by Trump’s statements.
In June 2016, Secretary Ash Carter announced that no qualified service member may be involuntarily separated, discharged, denied reenlistment or continuation of service, solely on the basis of their gender identity.
Trump announced in July 2017 that transgender people should no longer be allowed to serve in any capacity in the U.S. military.
The president’s offensive statement was followed by protests and a letter signed by 56 retired generals and admirals opposing a ban on transgender military service members and stating it would “deprive the military of mission-critical talent and compromise the integrity of transgender troops.”
In December 2017, the Pentagon issued guidelines to recruitment personnel to enlist transgender applicants.
Disposti said for him the most important line of the resolution is the final paragraph that states Oceanside supports plans by each branch of the U.S. military to welcome transgender people into service and defense of our country.
“It’s powerful the city put it down in writing and stands with their troops,” Disposti said. “I felt it was a historic moment for us and all our troops.”
Disposti said he is grateful for the council’s unanimous support and hopes efforts will improve the climate for transgender individuals.
He said he has observed people following the president’s lead and becoming more brazen in speaking out against the transgender community. He said recent waves of hostile comments have led transgender military officers who have put in decades of service to be fearful for their future.
“I see a lot of folks more easily challenge LGBT being a protected class in the military,” Disposti said. “We thought this resolution could send a message of solidarity and support to all our trans folks that have been the target of hateful rhetoric in the past few months.”
Disposti added he hopes to move forward and see more cities follow Oceanside’s lead and stand in support of transgender military personnel.
“This is the only resolution that we know of at this time,” Disposti said.
The North County LGBTQ Resource Center works with Camp Pendleton and its on-base LGBT support groups. The center also offers its resources to all military branches. Currently about 25 transgender military personnel frequent the center.
Ongoing center efforts work to educate community groups, hospitals and schools on LGBT issues.
The North County LGBTQ Resource Center will hold its annual Town Hall Meeting, which gives an overview of its yearly accomplishments, at 6:30 p.m. Jan. 26 at the Oceanside Public Library, 300 North Coast Highway, Oceanside.