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March 13, 2014
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March 14, 2014

Commission report says there’s no reason to continue ban on transgender service

By Kelli Anne Busey


Minnie Joycelyn Elders is an American pediatrician and public health administrator. She was a vice admiral in the Public Health Service Commissioned Corps and the first African American appointed as Surgeon General of the United States.

A study on the feasibility of transgender troops in the military was released today by the Palm Center. The commission co-chaired by former US Surgeon General Dr. Joycelyn Elders and former Coast Guard Director of Health and Safety Alan Steinman found that the ban on transgender service was not only unreasonable but empirically unsound.

The Palm Center study which was funded by a billionaire transgender woman from Chicago, retired colonel Jennifer Natalya Pritzker, reported that the commission…..

“..[] finds no compelling medical rationale for banning transgender military service..”

The Military has changed many of it’s regulations to reflect the updated DSM but hasn’t done this regarding transgender service even though the DSM no longer classifies gender diversity as a mental illness.

Brynn Tannehill, Advocacy coordinator for Sparta an organization advocating for LGBT inclusion in the US military issued this statement:

“The Elders Report validates some of the things we have seen from our transgender service members in SPARTA. Transgender people have served, currently serve, and will continue to serve – Marines, pilots, medics, foot soldiers, intelligence specialists, submariners, in every field – with honor and distinction. We are more than capable.”

The United States Military ranks number 40 out of 103 countries studied by The Hague Commission  regarding LGBT inclusion. The survey found the United States low ranking was mainly due to the exclusion of transgender people.

Retired Brigadier General Thomas Kolditz, a former Army commander and West Point professor on the commission, said he thinks allowing transgender people to serve openly would reduce gender-based harassment, assaults and suicides while enhancing national security.
“When you closet someone, you create a security risk, and we don’t need another Chelsea Manning,” Kolditz said, referring to the soldier formerly known as Bradley Manning who came out as transgender after being sentenced for leaking classified documents to the website WikiLeaks.
SourceSF Gate

The findings by the Palm Center and the Hague studies will undoubtedly be challenged by the likes of the Center for Military Readiness. Although founded by a woman the center has opposed woman in combat roles and recently derided Chelsea’s transition.

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  • christian_transgender

    As an AF veteran, the issue here is the disparity between how LGB is treated in contrast with the T. Were the military to remove the restriction, it would be be the source of strength for us elsewhere in civilian life because if trans persons are “good enough to die for our country”, then we are good enough to work elsewhere without discrimination. It would be another nail in the coffin to begin to finally put to rest the notion that gender = mental illness. When the military began to include LGB persons, being LGB ceased to be the huge stigma it had once been. The same should happen for us.

  • Sophia De Tricht

    I’m happy that more attention is being drawn to the issue, but I don’t think it will do any good. When I got kicked out, most people didn’t know it was something for which you could be kicked out. And when I challenged it (I put myself WAY out there, I bothered, attempted to get meetings with, and made some barely veiled legal and PR threats to some very senior officers), an aide for the commandant pulled me aside and said that things are only going to change when the old guard dies. The military is run by very old men who grew up in a different era and have some pretty broad powers to make policy within their branches.

  • Laurelai Bailey

    While progress is good, I think we should be focusing on stuff like getting homeless trans kids of the street, HIV prevention and employment and education issues before we tackle military service. Do we really want to turn a group of marginalized women into meat for the war machine?

    • Maggie Hendershot

      Yeah, while it would be nice to know I could always join military service if no one else will take me, it would be much nicer to know that my simple right to employment NOT in the military is protected. Which it still isn’t. Basically, I’d rather have human rights before having a soldier’s rights.

    • Sophia De Tricht

      Have you ever served?

      • Laurelai Bailey

        Yes. For 10 years in the US Army. I wouldn’t recommend it.

        • Sophia De Tricht

          So did I (although I was Navy and Coast Guard). I recognize, though, that it wasn’t a good fit for me. You should know very well why it’s important. Some people want to serve, and would be very happy at it. This is a fight we can actually win on a reasonable timeline. And, btw, it’s not just trans women. Trans men are getting kicked out as well. We know that the military is the last place that discrimination is generally eliminated, which makes this a big, fat strategic target. We win acceptance there, we win it pretty much everywhere (it’ll just take some time for it to trickle down).