I’m sure you have heard the news by now. Several people posted about it yesterday or this morning.
Let’s face it. I’ve been scooped.
After there were several instances of leaks and near leaks yesterday sharing that the Pentagon’s ban on transgender personnel was not going to survive the week, Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter came out with it.
Carter issued two directives. The first one established a Pentagon working group to “study over the next six months the policy and readiness implications of welcoming transgender persons to serve openly.”
At my direction, the working group will start with the presumption that transgender persons can serve openly without adverse impact on military effectiveness and readiness, unless and except where objective, practical impediments are identified.
The second directive stated that all decisions to dismiss troops with gender dysphoria would come under the purview of acting Secretary of Defense for personnel and readiness Brad Carson.
This second directive elevates further the level of action needed to dismiss transgender personnel. As background, here’s the Army doing more or less the same thing: Army discharge policy: Changing while remaining the same.
Then came the Air Force: Air Force cracks open the door to transgender service
And most recently, the Navy and Marines: Another shoe drops
More background is available here: Congressional Research Service on being transgender in the military
I think human stories are important on this issue. With over 15000 transgender military personnel estimated by the Williams Institute and the Palm Center, surely there must have been some. And there were:
Sgt. Shane Ortega: Squared Away
Major Jamie Lee Henry: Pentagon Pride
Staff Sgt. Patricia King: One nibble at a time, the barriers–they crumble
Jess Shipps: She tried
The new directives are aimed at keeping existing transgender personnel in the military. They will not allow the enlistment of new transgender personnel.
Basically, some people are freaked:
Senior brass have been skeptical of changing the transgender policy, arguing in private that the services have undergone rapid change in recent years and needed time to adjust to them, according to two Defense officials who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly. They pointed to the ban on gay and lesbian troops being lifted and women being integrated into previously closed combat fields.
I applaud Secretary Carter’s decision to establish a working group to study the policy and readiness implications of allowing transgender persons to serve openly. The brave men and women who serve in our military should not be excluded from the rights and freedoms that they risk their lives to protect. It’s that simple.
–Rep. Adam Smith (D-WA), ranking member, House Armed Services Committee
Today’s announcement is welcome news, not just for the 15,500 transgender personnel serving currently, but for all Americans. The Pentagon should move quickly to replace the ban with inclusive policy, and its review process should be informed by the social science research that explains how to do so. Both the research as well as the lessons of 18 foreign militaries that have lifted their bans on transgender personnel show that lifting the ban will not be difficult.
–Aaron Belkin, director, Palm Center
Young Americans today are more diverse, open and tolerant than past generations. And if we’re going to attract the best and brightest among them to contribute to our mission of national defense, we have to ourselves be more open, diverse and tolerant, too.
Transgender people are said to serve in the military at a rate that is 4 to 5 times that of non-transgender people.
Army Capt. Jacob Eleazer, who joined as a woman and now identifies as a man, greeted the news Monday with relief. For years he has gone back and forth with leadership over his gender identity, at times fearing he would be dismissed. Most recently, he said, he was admonished for allowing officer candidates to address him as “sir.”
…which some people may desire…and therefore justify its existence.