Open Trans Military Service — The Final Barrier to Full Inclusion Falls

The next time a trans person is rejected for employment, she needs to quote Sue Fulton, the first openly lesbian chair of the U.S. Military Academy Board of Visitors: “We have trans Marines defending our country. What’s your excuse?”

Last Monday, July 13, the Secretary of Defense, Ash Carter, announced that the Pentagon’s regulations banning open trans military service are outdated, and ordered a six month review which will end with the inclusion of trans servicemembers alongside their gay, lesbian and bisexual compatriots. The six-month review gives the Pentagon time to handle the medical, administrative and legal issues that will revise the regulations to apply fairly to trans persons. When the review is complete, the last impediment to a group of Americans willing to enlist or be commissioned in the armed forces will be gone, and the current 15,500 servicemembers serving in the closet will be able to come out.

As the Secretary said:

We have transgender soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines — real, patriotic Americans — who I know are being hurt by an outdated, confusing, inconsistent approach that’s contrary to our value of service and individual merit. The Defense Department’s current regulations regarding transgender service members are outdated and are causing uncertainty that distracts commanders from our core missions.

Brynn Tannehill, Advocacy Director of SPARTA (Service Members, Partners, Allies, for Respect and Tolerance for All), said:

This is an important step towards transgender service members being treated equally with other members of the armed forces. It brings the DoD closer to where the rest of the federal government is on the issue. I’m looking forward to finishing my career in the reserves, and doing so with dignity and honor.

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