Transgender people cannot currently serve openly in the U.S. Military. Military medical regulations, as currently written and implemented, effectively preclude service. These rules are based on unsupportable, old fashioned, unscientific nothing and they must end. And they will end.
Finally, nearly three years after Don’t Ask Don’t Tell was repealed, attention is finally turning to trans military service. Just this week, our colleagues at The Palm Center announced that they have commissioned eleven studies, supported by the largest known grant ever given to a trans policy effort. And yesterday, The Williams Institute released a new analysis of the challenges reported by veterans in the NCTE/Task Force National Transgender Discrimination Survey (NTDS).
Even more is happening behind the scenes. Conversations are starting, plans are being laid, and progress seems inevitable. We will win open military service for trans people.
Of course, as the NTDS shows, there have always been trans service members, but they have remained closeted or they have been discharged. Trans adults are about twice as likely as non-trans adults to identify themselves as veterans. We have no reason to believe that today’s military is any more of less trans than previously. There is simply no reason to treat trans servicemembers differently than anyone else.
The Palm Center’s model is a good one. They conduct, sponsor, and distill research in an academic and neutral way. So, notably, in their press release earlier this week, they talked about the newly funded research leading to “whether and how” the military can eliminate the discriminatory medical regulations. Let me be clear though, for NCTE the answer to “whether” is already clear. Our question is when?
This is not going to be a quick fight, eliminating outdated medical policies from a conservative institution like the military. But we know how to win and, collectively, we will. NCTE will be part of the effort and we will bring the same energy and strength to the fight that we have used to support our veterans, and to everything we do. We will win. Transgender people will serve openly in the U.S. military.