Selective Service Registration and Veterans Identification

After a long researching and editing process, my first two NCTE resources are coming out this week. They are both related to the broader topic of military identification documents.

First I analyzed the Selective Service, which is something that people might not think about in terms of trans issues, but as a gender-based system, it turned out to be really relevant. Registration requirements are entirely based upon birth-assigned sex, which is problematic for trans people and particularly for trans youth. I will say, though, that I was pretty impressed the Selective Service System (SSS) had protocol for transgender people pretty well laid out and in a decently visible part of their site (their FAQ). Still, the language they use is bad. They refer to “individuals who have had a sex change” which reinforces the incorrect idea that a person’s body defines their gender. Plus, “ individuals who have had a sex change” just plain misses the point since non-operative trans people could just as easily get caught up in Selective Service issues as anyone else.

The biggest challenge for moving forward with the Selective Service-related advocacy will be to get the SSS to treat trans women and men as any other women and men. Of course, this poses its own tough questions like how can young trans folks indicate to the SSS that they live full time as their gender when they often do not have access to surgeries or the ability to change their identification documents? This also, of course, fits neatly into the larger questions progressive people are pursuing around issues like women and gender non-conforming people in military service and conscientious objection.

Another area I analyzed was veterans-related documentation, which is very different. It is a much larger issue and encompasses more individual challenges and problems ranging from access to gender-specific care at Veterans Administration (VA) healthcare facilities to the fair distribution of partner benefits for trans people (including those who are legally married). The main concerns my work addressed were how to get up-to-date military discharge papers (DD 214s and 215s) and change the Department of Defense and VA databases. The biggest problems turned out to be vague and difficult-to-track down policies, surgical requirements, and varying interpretations of regulations referring to “spouses.”

NCTE has been working with other non-profits such as Service Members Legal Defense Network and Transgender American Veterans Association on a trans military working group, which is divided between people working on veterans issues and those on active duty-related issues. We hope to pursue future changes through these collaborative efforts.

Both of these new resources can be found at the links below and I hope people take advantage of them and find them useful. If you have any further questions about their content, please don’t hesitate to e-mail me at

Transgender People and the Selective Service

Transgender People and Veterans Identification

[Edit: The Veterans Identification Resource has been taken down for further edits before the official launch.]


5 Responses to Selective Service Registration and Veterans Identification

  1. WSR Photography says:

    Whoever wrote the post didn’t check eBlogger usage for links as none of them work, which makes it hard to understand the issue presented in the post.As to the issue, while I agree it is a conflict within the Selective Service System about transpeople, assigning the requirement by birth sex, but it is the reality which has been there for over 90 years, and as long as there are methods to accommodate male to female transpeople after their reqistration, I don’t see a problem.The language in the SSS rules don’t appear to be very clear, but it’s likely due to their ignorance on the issue. But it’s fair to assume it refers to post-transistion male to female women where they submit the before and after birth certificates to be excluded or removed from the SSS rolls.The question is if pre- or in-transistion (trans)women should be excluded or removed. I’m not sure there is an answer there, but as long as the law defines male and female transpeople by post-transistion physical and legal status, ie birth certificate, it’s hard to argue against it without walking into a legal quagmire, where I doubt the SSS wants to go.The argument is less, to me, about registering, but more about it’s impact on people if the draft is reactivated by Congress as the President’s request., but that’s a whole different ballgame.Just my thoughts. Good luck.

  2. althea says:

    In a show of thanks to our nation’s veterans, Bill McCormick and DougSchmick offer to serve those who’ve served at their McCormick & Schmick’s Seafood Restaurants. Last year the company served nearly 15,000 vets nationwide. This year’s event is taking place on the Sunday before Veterans Day so that families can participate.——————–altheaMontana Treatment Centers

  3. Rafe says:

    HiI am an FTM person, born after 1959, which puts me square into the Selective Service Registration issue. It did not occur to me that not being registered would be an issue until I started looking for Federal jobs, filling out the FAFSA for grad school funding, etc. So now I have to send a pile of documents in to the Selective Service people to get my letter of exemption in order to be eligible for anything federal. I should think it would be less of an issue for transwomen my age, because they are older than the recruiting window for the US armed forces anyway, than for transmen, who will continue to run up against that radio button, bullet point, check box, etc., on every federally based document we try to fill out.Thanks.

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  5. females demanding equality fail to recognize the inequality of the Selective Service System that is a requirement for males to get even a part time job with the government, SBA loans, Student loans, some types of welfare assistance, etc., etc. what makes them think they are dumped on when this is a fact of residency in the US for all males ONLY, even non-citizens, between ages 18 and 36. and now they are complaining that they are sexually kept back from combat roles in the military. either do away with the SSS and its multi million dollar cost or require ALL US RESIDENTS, Male, Female Transgender, 18 to 40 to register with SSS for any federal assistance, loans, jobs, part time, full time, and elected positions or even appointed offices.

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