Trans lawyer and Vietnam veteran Mia Yamamoto has slammed Donald Trump’s trans military ban as a “policy of exclusion, oppression and marginalisation by the government”.
The Japanese-American lawyer made the comments in an address to a room of aspiring lawyers at NYU Law on February 10, student newspaper Washington Square News reports.
The trans lawyer, who came out at the age of 60 in 2003, served in the Vietnam War and is now a criminal defence lawyer in Los Angeles.
In her speech, Yamamoto hit out at the Trump administration for banning trans people from serving in the military. The ban came into effect last year, putting thousands of trans people’s livelihoods in jeopardy.
Trans military ban is ‘tip of the iceberg’, says transgender lawyer and activist.
“The transgender ban issue is important, not just because of the [rights] of transgender people, but because it’s the tip of the iceberg,” Yamamoto said.
She said that trans people “are not the only ones that have been targeted” by the Trump administration, noting that women of colour, LGBT+ people and Muslims have also faced discrimination.
“We [transgender people] have something to offer the country. We believe in this country as much as anybody else,” she added.
The transgender ban issue is important, not just because of the [rights] of transgender people, but because it’s the tip of the iceberg.
Yamamoto was awarded the National Defense Service medal, the Army Commendation Medal and the Vietnam Campaign Medal for her time serving in the US military.
After leaving the military she studied law at UCLA, and opened her own practice in 1984 in LA.
Since she came out as trans in 2003, Yamamoto been an activist for trans rights and has represented members of the community in her work as a lawyer.
The ban was first announced in 2017 and came into effect last year.
Trump’s trans military ban came into effect last April after a number of legal challenges to the policy. It was estimated at the time that 13,700 trans people could be forced out of the military by the measure.
Trump first announced the ban in a series of tweets on July 26, 2017.
“After consultation with my generals and military experts, please be advised that the United States government will not accept or allow transgender individuals to serve in any capacity in the US military,” he wrote.
“Our military must be focused on decisive and overwhelming victory and cannot be burdened with the tremendous medical costs and disruption that transgender in the military would entail.”