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The New Don't Ask, Don't Tell: Transgender Troops In The Military

Kristin Beck

As the memory of Don't Ask, Don't Tell begins to fade from the public's mind, one group continues to feel the sting of being forced to serve in silence: transgender troops.

While numerous military officials and politicians claim to embrace the LGBT community, oftentimes these individuals are tacitly omitting the 'T' from discussion. In the military, coming out as transgender still disqualifies you for service, a subject that USA Today tackles in a new article on the issue:

"I was at the Pentagon when Secretary Hagel was saying we're here to celebrate LGBT service," says a transgender Army sergeant who joined the Army as a woman. The sergeant spoke on condition of anonymity to stay in the service.

"I'm kind of looking around for the rest of Ts," the soldier says, referring to transgender troops. Other troops could celebrate marriage equality, the sergeant says, but not the transsexuals.

Transgender pride extends to Defense Department civilian employees such as Amanda Simpson, a senior Army official. Simpson, named to her post by President Obama, is the highest-ranking openly transgender official. She declined to comment for this story.

That pride stops with troops transitioning to the opposite sex.

For now, the Pentagon has no plans to cross that line, says Navy Lt. Cdr. Nathan Christensen, a spokesman. They're medically disqualified, according to Pentagon regulations. Army regulations, for instance, prohibit transvestism.

Because of the current DADT policy, it is unknown how many transgender troops are serving in the military. About 700,000 Americans (0.3% of the total population) are transgender, according to a 2011 study by the Williams Institute at the UCLA School of Law.

Regardless of the number, transgender advocates such as Mara Keisling with the National Center for Transgender Equality, say that the only thing that should matter to the military is the ability for troops to do their job effectively. 

Last month, former Navy SEAL Team 6 member Chris Beck revealed in a memoir Warrior Princess that he had become Kristin Beck, a woman. Beck says that the Pentagon should act soon to include transgender troops in its ranks or risk having the policy dictated by Congress or the courts. "It should not be emotional," Beck says. "It needs to be well thought out."

Previously, "Kristen Beck, Transgender Former Navy Seal, Gives Powerful Interview to Anderson Cooper: VIDEO" [tlrd]

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Comments

  1. I know the gay community seems to want to make trans issues their issues, but they aren't. America has a hard enough time with gay and lesbian issues. Heterosexuals are already stupid enough to think that most of us want to be another sex, so I don't see how taking on trans issues hleps that case. Im sure the trans men and women out there are perfectly able to handle their own issues themselves.

    Posted by: Jerry | Jul 24, 2013 10:02:16 AM


  2. I'm relieved, "Jerry", that people like you exist solely in the anonymity of internet messageboards. because you're a profoundly spineless wimp of a man.

    how's this for an idea - be a real f***ing man for once in your life, AND EDUCATE PEOPLE ABOUT TRANS ISSUES.

    I do it. My straight parents and sister and brother in law do it. And you won't? Man up, chump.

    Yes, transpeople should be able to serve openly in the military. Like they've been able to do in Canada. For decades.

    every gay person who doesnt' want to help our trans brothers and sisters attain social and legal equality is a worthless sack of s**t who deserves every ounce of anti-gay discrimination they're destined to face in life.

    Posted by: Little Kiwi | Jul 24, 2013 11:21:13 AM


  3. I'm trans and I've always tried to fight the good fight on behalf of LGB.

    Supporting our lesbian, gay, and bisexual brothers and sisters--it's the only way to go.

    Posted by: Petra | Jul 24, 2013 11:41:15 AM


  4. Petra-

    Although I thank you for your support, the truth is that Ts do virtually nothing for LGB rights. They don't donate, they don't volunteer. In fact, a number of prominent T activists oppose gay rights as a form of "punishment" to gays and their families for not prioritizing trans issues. I think that if Ts want to support us as allies, that is awesome. Just as it is awesome when straight "cis" people support us. But you should support us because it is the right thing to do, not because you think it is the best way to extract something from us.

    Posted by: Dana | Jul 24, 2013 12:45:28 PM


  5. Agree with Jerry. Also Id say that there really isn't a comparison b/t the 2 policies. With gays, there is very little difference in how an LGB soldier conducts himself on duty vs. how a straight soldier conducts himself. Sex on duty is banned, so that is not an issue. When that is out of the way, the only difference is that from time to time an LGB soldier might mention the fact of being LGB to his fellow soldiers. Other than that, there is no difference b/t the straight and gay soldier.

    With trans soldiers, there is different conduct all the time. They want to dress differently and have free "gender expression." They want to use the bathroom of their choice, despite the universal convention that bathrooms are segregated by sex. They want to be addressed as "he" or "she" or maybe even the new transgender term "zie". And this can change depending upon their own evolving "gender identity." And trans service implicates significant costs, as the VA could be on the hook for everything from electrolysis to gender reassignment surgery. Also, some aspects of transgenderism are mental disorders, even in the new DSM V. We need mentally fit people serving, not folks with disorders and dysphorias.

    In other words, allowing trans service is a far messier and complicated matter. It needs to be very carefully considered before any action is taken. I certainly don't equate it with repealing DADT.

    Posted by: Mike | Jul 24, 2013 12:55:14 PM


  6. here we have it: Out and Proud and Empowered Transgendered people speaking out, visibly, against InEquality, and cowardly hackjob insecure homosexuals railing against it, anonymously.

    Posted by: Little Kiwi | Jul 24, 2013 12:59:16 PM


  7. Thank God we were smart enough in 2010 to focus on gay civil rights and not go down the garden path of gender identity. If we had followed the usual LGBT playbook and insisted on no DADT repeal unless it included straight transsexuals, we'd still have DADT in force today, destroying the lives of young LGB men and women.

    We should learn from our 2010 victory on DADT. We should pass ENDA focusing on sexual orientation alone, to protect all LGB workers. This will help trans people too, since some are LGB and many others are perceived as LGB.

    Posted by: AndyW. | Jul 24, 2013 2:00:49 PM


  8. Coward With No Balls, do you really think posting the same nonsense you always post here, and on JMG, under different screen names makes any impact?

    you're a pathetic coward, and using various screen names to continue to anonymously vent your insecurity only proves me right.

    andy. mike. dana. jerry. all the same pathetic little coward.

    stop being so upset that those transpeople have the balls you'll never know.

    Posted by: Little Kiwi | Jul 24, 2013 2:09:10 PM


  9. folks, take a look at Ontario's Bill-33: Toby's Act.

    a wonderful groundbreaking piece of legislation.

    and, like with the DADT repeal, i have to ask this question: if Canada's been able to have this, for more than 20 years, what's the hold up with the USA?

    Posted by: Little Kiwi | Jul 24, 2013 2:11:17 PM


  10. This has no relevance to gay people, gay civil rights issues, or discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.

    Posted by: DB | Jul 24, 2013 2:20:32 PM


  11. Look at all the anti Trans folks. How sad.

    Posted by: MateoM | Jul 24, 2013 2:24:51 PM


  12. "all", MateoM?

    it's one. one sad pathetic cowardly gay man who is angry that these transpeople Live Out Loud, and he can't.

    for real. there are not "a lot of anti-trans commenters" - there's one, who uses many names.

    because he's a cowardly sack of s**t.

    Posted by: Little Kiwi | Jul 24, 2013 2:33:57 PM


  13. The transgender community is THE reason that we still have legal discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation in this country. This article details what happened: http://www.sfbaytimes.com/?sec=article&article_id=6898 - 'A Movement Gets Trans-jacked'. Transgender people blocked the 2007 passage of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act because they wanted to add 'gender identity' to a bill designed to end discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. Any gay person or family that has suffered in the past six years in hiring, firing, or promotion, owes that solely to anti-gay work by the transgender community.

    Posted by: DB | Jul 24, 2013 3:03:37 PM


  14. DB, do us all a favor and make your dad proud by gassing yourself.

    Cowards like you deserve the miserable worthless lives you lead.

    And no, the reason we have discrimination on the books is because non-gay right-wing society is still bigoted.

    And pathetically, you're part of the problem. You are to transpeople what anti-gay Christians are to gays. Off yourself, you're of no use to any of us, you pathetic bigoted coward.

    Posted by: Little Kiwi | Jul 24, 2013 3:25:05 PM


  15. Kiwi,

    You are out of line. You can disagree with people. You don't tell them to "gas themselves." What is the matter with you?

    Posted by: Dana | Jul 24, 2013 4:13:32 PM


  16. NOW HERE THIS: 1. DADT had NOTHING to do with transgender service members except some T service members were ERRONEOUSLY discharged under it. 2. DADT was a law. The ban on Ts is a Pentagon policy, and COULD be changed with NO act by Congress. 3. Service members suspected of being transgender could ALWAYS and STILL CAN be "asked." 4. There is NO "current DADT policy.

    We now return you to the absolutely appropriate battle to eliminate the policy against out transgender service, and hope that there will be no more idiotic distortions of DADT.

    Posted by: Michael Bedwell | Jul 24, 2013 4:17:18 PM


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