John M. Becker

Panel to Obama: Lift Ban on Trans Military Service

Filed By John M. Becker | March 14, 2014 12:00 PM | comments

Filed in: Politics, Transgender & Intersex
Tags: military, military service, open service, Palm Center, trans ban, trans service, transgender servicemembers

trans_military2.jpgA commission convened by the Palm Center, co-chaired by former U.S. Surgeon General Jocelyn Elders, and including a retired general and admiral released a landmark report yesterday concluding that there is no medical reason for the U.S. military to continue excluding transgender persons from serving openly. It further calls on President Obama to lift the ban.

The Associated Press reports:

The five-member panel, convened by a think tank at San Francisco State University, said Department of Defense regulations designed to keep transgender people out of the military are based on outdated beliefs that require thousands of current service members either to leave the service or to forego the medical procedures and other changes that could align their bodies and gender identities.

"We determined not only that there is no compelling medical reason for the ban, but also that the ban itself is an expensive, damaging and unfair barrier to health care access for the approximately 15,450 transgender personnel who serve currently in the active, Guard and reserve components," said the commission led by Dr. Joycelyn Elders, who served as surgeon general during Bill Clinton's first term as president, and Rear Adm. Alan Steinman, a former chief health and safety director for the Coast Guard.

The report also notes that trans identity and related medical conditions "are the only gender-related conditions requiring discharge irrespective of fitness for duty," and that these discharge requirements "are inconsistent with how the military regulates medical and psychological conditions."

At least a dozen countries, including some of the U.S.'s closest allies, already allow open trans service. But the Defense Department doesn't intend to change America's anti-trans military policy anytime soon:

"At this time there are no plans to change the department's policy and regulations which do not allow transgender individuals to serve in the U.S. military," said Navy Lt. Cmdr. Nate Christensen, a defense department spokesman.

Brynn Tannehill, Director of Advocacy for SPART*A and a contributor to The Bilerico Project, praised the report and the courage of transgender soldiers:

"The Elders Report validates some of the things we have seen from our transgender service members in SPART*A. Transgender people have served, currently serve, and will continue to serve - Marines, pilots, medics, foot soldiers, intelligence specialists, submariners, in every field - with honor and distinction. We are more than capable."

A brief AP video report on this story is after the jump.

For More Information

The Bilerico Project: "With Trans Ban, U.S. Lags Behind in Military Inclusion."
Slate: "There's No Medical Reason to Keep Transgender People Out of the Military."

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