The New England Journal of Medicine’s current issue includes an analysis by Aaron Belkin, Ph. D., director of the Palm Center and political science professor at San Francisco State University: Caring for Our Transgender Troops –The Negligible Cost of Transition-Related Care.
With Mike Huckabee basically decrying the potential medical cost of having transgender troops serve this country, Belkin decided to estimate how much we were talking about. Being a retired math professor, I couldn’t resist double-checking Belkin’s calculations.
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.
The Congressional Research Service issued a report on April 28 which stated that the Department of Defense should seriously consider following the lead of the Justice Department, which at the end of 2014 announced that transgender federal employees would be added to the list of people protected against discrimination by the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
The report was unearthed by the Federation of American Scientists and made available at the blog, Secrecy News
The document is entitled CRS Insights, and subtitled What are the Department of Defense (DOD) Policies on Transgender Service?. It was written by Kristy N. Kamarck, who is described as an analyst in military manpower.
On December 18, 2014, then-Attorney General Eric Holder announced that the Department of Justice would take the position in litigation that the protection of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 extends to claims of discrimination based on an individual’s gender identity, including transgender status. While Title VII does not apply to military personnel, for some, this change in the Administration’s position has raised questions about U.S. law and DOD policies as they relate to transgender individuals.
In an interview with Capitol Download’s Susan Page on Wednesday Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James said that the ban on transgender troops is likely to be reassessed in the near future and that she believes it should be lifted.
Times Change. [The current policy] is likely to come under review in the next year or so.
From my point of view, anyone who is capable of accomplishing the job should be able to serve.
You know, I think that is likely to come under review in the next year or so. So I think we should stand by, and times change, and we’ll just have to see what happens there.
James is the first secretary of a branch of the armed forces to openly support the idea of ending the ban on transgender troops.
The Williams Institute has estimated that there are currently about 15,500 transgender people now serving in the US military.
Conservative forces say allowing transgender troops to serve openly would create complications on issues of housing and health care.
Aaron Belkin of The Palm Center called James’ remarks a positive step.
President Obama is the commander in chief and is ultimately responsible for setting policy, and it is imperative for him to clarify his position as well.
[James’ remarks] provide further proof that it is only a question of when, not if, the outdated, discriminatory ban on transgender troops will be lifted.
The Palm Center released the Report of the Transgender Military Commission yesterday, funded by transgender billionaire Jennifer Pritzker, who is also a military veteran, to the tune of $1.35 million, about the suitability of transgender people for service in the military.
Although Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell was repealed in 2010, transgender people have remained banned from the military on the basis of the Department of Defense medical regulation DODI 6130.03 which considers any type of gender-confirming clinical, medical or surgical treatments as “disqualifying physical and mental conditions.”
The new report asserts:
Removal of the military’s blanket ban on transgender service members would improve health outcomes, enable commanders to better care for their troops, and reflect the federal government’s commitment to reducing disparities in health care access for transgender people.
The commission was co-chaired by former US Surgeon General Joycelyn Elders and Rear Admiral Alan M. Steinman, MD (Ret.) and included former military officers and top scholars on gender and health.
In an essay entitled The Pentagon’s Transgender Problem Mother Jones writers Adam Klasfeld and Brett Brownell consider the situation of military service by transgender people and the treatment of transgender veterans. They have subtitled the piece, in very small type:
New studies suggest that transgender civilians are twice as likely to enlist, and transgender veterans are 20 times as likely to commit suicide.
Most people, including many within the LGBT community (including some very prominent LGBT leaders), were or still are unaware that the end of DADT did not end the exclusion of transgender people from military service. There is no law preventing transgender individuals from serving. However, being transgender is still grounds for “rejection for military service.”
Amidst all the celebration of the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell in the recent past, most people were completely unaware that the prohibition of transpeople serving in the ranks remains inviolate.
Well, it remains sacrosanct except for the fact we have served and do serve and probably shall continue to serve…and try to take care of our transitions in the future.
It is estimated that 1 in 5 transpeople have served, do serve or will serve in the military. That is twice the rate of cis-gendered people.
Such was the case for Kristin Beck. Beck served as an enlisted petty officer in the Navy Seals for 20 years, including a tour with the renowned Seal Team Six. That was not under the name Kristin, of course.
Beck retired as an E-8 Senior Chief Petty Officer, having deployed 13 times, during which she earned both a Purple Heart and a Bronze Star.
Beck’s biggest battle came after she retired. It was the battle to become herself.
With the anniversary of the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell just passed, questions are arising over the military’s continued stance that transgender people are unfit to serve.
The Advocate tracked down some current and recent transpeople who are serving or have just finished serving.
In the interest of full disclosure, this author must admit to serving in the US Army during the Vietnam Era (1971-1973). She did not serve oversees , but rather was stationed at the United States Disciplinary Barracks at Fort Leavenworth, KS, where she was a correctional specialist who rose to the pay grade of E5 (Spec-5, which is equivalent to sergeant). She separated with an Honorable Discharge and a Presidential Commendation.
This was all around two decades before she transitioned.
George Brown is a psychologist who served 12 years in the US Air Force and worked for 13 years in the Department of Veterans Affairs. Back in 1988 he wrote a paper entitled Transsexuals in the Military: Flight into Hypermasculinity (pdf). A copy of that paper was present in Bradley Manning’s housing unit, according to testimony at his Article 32 hearing.
To be a boy is to be macho, to have weapons, to be a fighter, and to kill, at first in play, then maybe later in a war.
–John Money, 1980
In that paper Brown speculated that male-to-female transgender enlist in the services as a way of “purging their feminine self”.
Current military policies, in association with the proposed hypermasculine phase of transsexual development, may actually result in a higher prevalence of transsexualism in the military than in the civilian population.
Specialist John Ackley served in the 34th Infantry Division (the Red Bulls) in Iraq in 2009. Ackley recently inquired about re-enlistment in the National Guard. The Guard was all happy about it until they discovered Ackley has legally changed her name to Ashley and has transitioned to a woman.
A history of, or current manifestations of…transsexual, gender identity disorder to include major abnormalities or defects of genitalia such as change of sex or a current attempt to change sex…or dysfunctional residuals from surgical correction of these conditions render an individual administratively unfit.
–Lt. Col. Kevin Olson, Spokesman for the Minnesota National Guard
That response is far different than the response Ackley got from her superiors when she told them at the end of her tour of service that she was wanting to begin transition.
I figured there would be boards and I would have to talk to people all the way up the chain of command.
But Especially those Moms who Serve in our Military and Veterans of and the Spouses, the Moms of our male soldiers and veterans, the Grand Moms especially those caring for or watching over their grandchildren this past decade plus while sons and daughters have been sent into these two theaters or deployed elsewhere without families!