Transgendered American service people will no longer be banned from service in our nation’s armed forces, as military leaders just announced to the press. North Carolina’s Republican Governor Pat McCrory must be trembling, now that military bases in his state like Camp Lejeune, Fort Bragg and the Marine Air Station will accommodate transgendered people. Transgendered people won’t just be in the bathrooms either, or just on those bases, but serving in the entire United States armed services across the world. Republican fear mongers like Florida’s “bathroom cop” who live to discriminate against trans people are probably pissing their pants in frustration when transgendered people in the military are granted full rights to openly be the gender they choose, because the Department of Defense show how actually harmless – and more importantly useful – those people who change genders truly are to our military.
USA Today reports that as of July 1st, the Department of Defense will change officially change their policy directing the military to draft new policies to train, recruit, uniform and house transgendered people. The new orders will cover all 1.3 million members of the United States Army, Navy, Marines and Air Forces of which only 77 are openly transgendered and serving. As the Washington Post explains, this action is actually considered long overdue by the military’s civilian leadership:
The decision will put to rest a year of deliberations and mounting frustration among advocates for the ban’s repeal. Defense Secretary Ashton B. Carter said last July that he was establishing a working group to research transgender military service and gave it six months to carry out its mission, but the process has dragged out for close to a year.
Outside observers also think that a modern policy on transgendered people’s service in the military is long overdue too. Current military policy allows immediate discharge of transgendered people without any question, simply for admitting that they have transitioned or are attempting to transition genders. Defense Secretary Carter began the initiative last year for that exact reason:
The Defense Department’s current regulations regarding transgender service members are outdated and are causing uncertainty that distracts commanders from our core missions. At a time when our troops have learned from experience that the most important qualification for service members should be whether they’re able and willing to do their job, our officers and enlisted personnel are faced with certain rules that tell them the opposite. Moreover, 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 long awaited service study by RAND Corporation arrived in May, and estimated that it would cost a tiny fraction of the defense budget’s $6 billion in current costs to care for our troops to provide specialized care to members of the military who transition, less than 0.001% annually. Their estimates revealed that up to 2,400 other servicemen and women are transgendered, or may require gender transition therapy, but haven’t told their commanding officers for fear of retribution.
Hopefully, next week’s announcement ends the last remaining bastion of the military’s old-school LGBT prohibitions. Because patriotic members of our nation’s military should not be judged solely by their genders, nor their sexual preferences, but by the merit of their service and their commitment to the ideals of freedom, liberty and individual rights that our country’s Founding Fathers cared about the most. Next week, that dream will become reality.
Grant Stern is the Executive Editor of Occupy Democrats and published author. His new Meet the Candidates 2020 book series is distributed by Simon and Schuster. He's also mortgage broker, community activist and radio personality in Miami, Florida., as well as the producer of the Dworkin Report podcast. Grant is also an occasional contributor to Raw Story, Alternet, and the DC Report, and an unpaid senior advisor to the Democratic Coalition.