RELEASE: New Hampshire Transgender Veteran Excoriates President Trump’s Broken Promises to LGBTQ Community

Washington, D.C. — Today, the Center for American Progress Action Fund is releasing a new video in a social media campaign to educate Americans on the broken promises of the Trump administration. The campaign is telling the stories of Americans like Tavion Dignard, a transgender veteran who served in the military from 1998 to 2002. Dignard, who was born and raised in New Hampshire, says that his family’s military service goes back generations: His grandfather served in the military during World War II, and his father served two tours in Vietnam and was a master sergeant in the New Hampshire National Guard for 27 years. 

Dignard says that the transgender military ban implemented by President Donald Trump is a stark departure from the president’s promise to advocate for the LGBTQ community. It’s a broken promise that is particularly hard for Dignard as a transgender man because military service has always been important to his family.

“I grew up in a military household,” says Dignard. “I served in the Navy on the destroyer, the USS Oldendorf. Did an Arabian Gulf deployment, was in for September 11, and it’s something you put your heart and soul into. I still carry that honor, courage, and commitment.”

In 2017, President Trump signed a memorandum implementing a ban on transgender individuals serving or enlisting in the U.S. Armed Forces. The Trump administration argued that accommodations for transgender service members put in place by the Obama administration would hurt “military readiness” and significantly raise costs. Opponents of the the ban, such as  Dignard, however, feel that the change in this policy by the Trump administration is more about discrimination than anything else.

“As a veteran and a transgender man, I believe anybody who is fit to serve this country should be able to,” Dignard says. “How I identify or who somebody loves shouldn’t even be a factor. I’m just wearing a uniform, and I’m serving my country, and I do it well. To have that retracted by someone who never served, who has no idea—it’s heartbreaking.”

President Trump notably promised at the Republican National Convention that he would “do everything in my power to protect our LGBT citizens.” In reality, the Trump administration has taken steps to roll back the rights of members of the LGBTQ community, including by putting forward a proposal that would allow health care providers to discriminate against patients based on gender identity. Dignard says that the daylight between Trump’s promises and the actual actions taken by the administration is glaring.

“Trump says a lot of things. The hypocrisy is hard to watch,” says Dignard. “I didn’t believe him from the start, but that he had the willingness to say that, and the hypocrisy in his policies against the LGBT community, limiting our rights, taking away our rights, it’s continuously hard to watch.” 

For more information on this topic or to speak with an expert, please contact Freedom Alexander Murphy at fmurphy.af@americanprogressaction.org or 202-796-9712.