By Camden Ador
This speech originally presented at Fight The Ban – New York City, April 13th, 2019
Good morning everyone, my name is Camden. I’m a transgender man, US Navy veteran, and visual artist. When I was asked if I wanted to speak today, my first thought was yes, this is amazing! But then my second and third thoughts were, is my voice too feminine and what if you can’t see me when I’m standing behind the podium because I’m too short? And of course the internal argument went on for quite some time, I was scared, and anxiety washed over me. I’ve done a lot of interesting and quote “crazy” things throughout life, mostly to test myself, and the most common question I get is, “aren’t you scared?” I eventually started saying, “yes, of course I’m scared, but I’m not scared of failure, I’m scared of inaction.” As soon as I remembered that, my mind and body became still, because I knew then, that I couldn’t let the fear of a feminine voice stop me from doing this, because the fear of not doing it is much greater.
It is the same for us, right here, right now. We must take action because the reality of not taking action leads to a far scarier outcome. I’m here today to call upon my community as well as my cisgender counterparts to stand with us in the fight. I’ve come to realize that often times those who are not directly affected by a situation are less compelled to take action. This is the definition of privilege. Earlier this year I met an older couple who did not know I was transgender; we discussed many topics, and I could definitely tell they were on the conservative side. All of a sudden, the North Carolina bathroom bill came up, and the woman stated, “I just wish they [trans people] would have kept their mouths shut. Nobody cared until they started making a fuss.” Initially my mind was blown; does she realize what she just said? That she doesn’t care if trans people exist but that we have to remain in hiding. And while I’m still wildly taken aback by that statement, I realized due to her abundance of privilege and lack of education on the subject matter, she didn’t even understand the implications of what she had said.
So, I urge you all to get educated, understand the implications of what Trump has said, and the implications of this ban. Understand that the military is the number one employer of trans people, that taking that away leaves an estimate of 7,000 active duty members and 4,000 reservists without jobs. Understand that there have been multiple studies showing minimal impact on budget and overall military readiness, and the reality of this ban has nothing to do with those but everything to do with the bigotry of this administration. Understand that military service is a chosen career, just like a doctor or teacher, and by implementing his ban, we have asked people to choose between that career or living their life authentically, remaining in hiding – as the woman I met suggested – or living their truth. I personally cannot wrap my head around staying in the military under an administration that has done nothing but try to eradicate me. I don’t know if that makes me selfish, but I know that wanting to stay makes them selfless. So, understand that trans service members just want to be the best they can be, just like any other humans.