Don't Ask, Don't Tell | Military | News | Science | Transgender

Grant Launches New Studies About Transgender Military Service

The end of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" was a landmark in the quest for equality for all LGBT soldiers. Unfortunately, its impact tended to affect some more than others, as transgendered troops continue to be ineligible for open service in today's armed forces. 

The Palm Center intends to help end that reality. Thanks to a new $1.35 million-dollar grant, the institute is launching the Transgender Military Initiative, which plans to conduct 11 studies, attempting to find "whether and how the U.S. armed forces could include transgender troops without undermining readiness," according to a press release. The Palm Center is previously known for "coordinating more than a decade of research into the military’s 'Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell' policy," and intends to take a similar approach once again. The group plans to conduct research "in areas ranging from privacy and medical accommodations to the experiences of foreign militaries and sports programs" over the next three years.

The project's leader, Indra Lusero, explained the potential significance of this new research in a statement to BuzzFeed:

"This academic research will inform an important public conversation by providing facts and evidence about transgender military service and gender expression in armed forces. Militaries around the world are updating their policies, and we are already conducting research in Canada, Britain and Australia to learn whether their trans-inclusive regulations have impacted readiness." 

Trans militaryThe grant money comes courtesy of the Tawani Foundation, which is run by Col. James Pritzker, cousin of Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker. Tawani's stated purpose is “to affect significant transformation of organizations and educational programs that enrich knowledge, preserve military heritage, improve health and wellness and conserve unique sites for enduring positive impact on individuals, communities and societies.” Nathaniel Frank, the author of Unfriendly Fire: How the Gay Ban Undermines the Military and Weakens America and a former Palm Center staffer himself, would no doubt agree that this new research could certainly accomplish that goal. He praised the news, saying: 

“The education dimension for getting people to understand the importance of openly gay service in the military, getting the country and the military and the Congress in the right position was a long game. The same kind of long game in regard to transgender service has not yet been played.”

The group claims that the Transgender Military Initiative is the first study of transgender military service to be conducted on such a large scale. No doubt that trans troops such as former SEAL Team 6 member Kristin Beck are hoping that this study elicits an impact on par with its scale. Unfortunately, due to the nature of this new "don't ask, don't tell", we won't know exactly how many trans troops there are until we allow them to serve openly. 

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  1. How are they defining transgender? It doesn't even have a uniformly accepted meaning. Are they including hermaphrodites? Crossdressers? Pre-op transsexuals? Any person who in any way exhibits characteristics that are not consistent with the "gender binary"?

    They'll never be able to settle on a reasonable definition because transgender itself is nothing more than a contrived umbrella term to corral a bunch of different groups and pretend that they are one. Very easy to see how intersexed soldiers could serve with no problem while "gender queers" could cause significant disruption to the military ethos, while transsexuals come to the table with a 66% suicide attempt rate and widespread mental illness. Totally different groups forced together by "trans activists".

    Posted by: Dana | Jul 31, 2013 12:20:51 PM

  2. As former military, I don't see how this is anything like DADT. Trans soldiers will be exhibiting different behavior on duty and on base on daily basis. Whether that is dress, hairstyle, voice, demeanor, whatever. It is behavioral and on the job. Also there is the issue of how artificial hormone injections can affect behavior. The military shouldn't be forced to accept this unless and until the evidence is produced showing that there is no impact.

    And there's the issue of whether the military would be on the hook to pay for all sorts of transsexual medical procedures.

    Maybe the best solution is to keep the ban but allow for exceptions on an individual basis.

    Posted by: Mike | Jul 31, 2013 2:12:06 PM

  3. Dear America, the Canadian military has allowed its transgendered members to serve openly for decades. If we can do it, why can't you?

    And to the troll who posts anti-trans comments from his typically cowardly place of Various Screen Names: i've said it before, and i'll say it again, in language you can understand: stop being angry that transpeople have the balls you never got.

    Posted by: Little Kiwi | Jul 31, 2013 2:54:38 PM

  4. Hi Mike!

    Although trans folk may choose to express their gender in a variety of ways, I assume they would still be bound by the same dress and personal grooming rules that exist for everyone else. If women weren't allowed in the military, then it would make more sense that a certain "degree" of masculinity would be required, but I don't know that that would be an issue in this case.
    For the purposes of this conversation, I assume we are talking about people who have been diagnosed with GID, since that's the diagnosis that the armed services says isn't allowed. For those people, it's true that there are sometimes comorbid issues, but being trans wouldn't make it ok to be schizophrenic or whatever else is prohibited. In fact, before prescribing any medical treatments for their GID, trans people must first be treated for whatever's other issues they may have, under the current regulations.
    Lastly, regardless of their source, hormone levels are carefully monitored by the doctors involved, and are not allowed to slip outside of normal levels for that gender. Thus, the person involved wont have any particular reactions to those hormones than a cisgender person would.

    Posted by: Thedrdonna | Jul 31, 2013 3:07:19 PM

  5. DrDonna, if you think your facts and logic and reason will impress the cowardly internet troll who posts anti-trans nonsense here every day, under various screen names, then i admire your resilience.

    evidence that there's no impact, MIKE?

    like i said, can you heel-dragging Americans take a gander up North? Canada. Hi, we have a history of figuring out how to solve the social problems you refuse to understand.

    you want proof? we're proof.

    Posted by: Little Kiwi | Jul 31, 2013 3:15:05 PM

  6. TheDrDonna, heya thanks for the reply. So maybe I dont have a handle on this but I thought that transgender means everyone who is gender unconventional or who doesnt fit into male and female gender categories. If thats right then how does that work in the military. We have male and female dress and male and female bathrooms and male and female barracks. Separate quarters on USN vessels. So then you have a gender queer coming in saying that he isnt male or female and wants to be called zie or zir. And he wants to gender express himself differently on different days. This is unacceptable in military culture where there needs to be conformity and self-expression is allowed only within certain parameters.

    For transsexuals only, maybe this is not a problem because they could just present as female or male consistently. But then you have all the medical issues. Maybe doctors could monitor hormones, but the military wants people who can show up on day one and not need to be monitored by doctors. Also id be more worried about a woman who is getting pumped up with synthetic testosterone than a man who is getting estrogen. What impact do testosterone injections have on self control and discipline? How many doctors have to be on hand to monitor this and how much are taxpayers going to pay to send these specialists out to the Korean DMZ to monitor transmen hormone levels? Is the taxpayer on the hook for surgery too?

    There are probably individuals who bring skills and experience to the table where it is worth it to make special accommodations. Like that Navy SEAL Team Six guy. Definitely worth it to make an exception for him. But the Pentagon is gonna want to look at this real close before it lifts the ban.

    LittleKiwi, no need to attack. They should definitely look at what has gone on up in Canada. I have never read anything about how it is working or not working.

    Posted by: Mike | Jul 31, 2013 5:21:30 PM

  7. well it works like this, up in Canada: it works.

    my country has a history of actually looking at issues and weighing the opinions of actual experts, nor professional bigots.

    its' 2013. everyone has the internet. there are no excuses for grown adults not understand the issues facing Transgendered/transitioning people, and gender-identity and expression needs to be understood, respected, and protected.

    Posted by: Little Kiwi | Jul 31, 2013 5:30:21 PM

  8. Hi again Mike,

    I have to admit, I don't know a whole lot about military culture, being a lifelong civilian. To me, the injustice is that trans people are being prevented from enlisting simply due to being trans, with no other factor. Obviously, rules regarding deportment and attire would need to be universally applie; special rules for trans people is the antithesis of equality. Regarding medical expenses, that's tricky. Hormones and blood tests are cheap and easy, and the results can be interpreted remotely, but even so I don't know how the military addresses those issues for other people who require intermittent medical supervision. My concern is that the conversation really hasn't even made it that far, we're still at the point where GID is a blanket ban, no further info necessary or requested. I think having a knowledgeable conversation, involving medical professionals and other people who are familiar with the subjects of trans care and of medical treatment for servicemembers, will lead to a good common-sense policy that minimizes the exclusion of trans folk.

    Posted by: Thedrdonna | Jul 31, 2013 5:43:32 PM

  9. this is the root of the "trans issues" - some people refuse to understand what gender-identity and gender-expression are.

    then, they blame everyone else for their ignorance.

    "You're not allowed to do _____ or ____ because I don't understand who or what you are and I'm confused!"


    Posted by: Little Kiwi | Jul 31, 2013 5:47:53 PM

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