Tag Archives: military

December 2015 Trans Talk on 90.1 KKFI

KKFI

Hello everyone! On Trans Talk this month I am going to cover a very important subject for transgender rights – military service. We are very fortunate to have three transgender soldiers coming to join us in the studio, including one who is the highest-ranking active-duty transgender military officer I know of in the world. My three guests will be talking about their lives as a transgender person in the military, and we will all discuss current efforts to expand and legalize active-duty military service for transgender persons. Finally, we will discuss criticisms of these progressive efforts of inclusion in our armed forces.

I will also give a breakdown of some of the LGBT news this week, and I will finish up the show with the community calendar update. I do hope you will be able to join me this Saturday, December 26 at 1:00 pm on 90.1 KKFI, Kansas City Community Radio! You can also stream the program live on kkfi.org.

VERDICT: Marine Guilty in Brutal Murder of Filipino Transwoman

Jennifer_LaudeThe story plays out like a bad movie script, because we’ve unfortunately all heard it before:

  • Man meets woman and wants romantic and/or sexual relations with her.
  • Man discovers that woman is transgender.
  • Man decides to prove he’s a big, manly man and murders her in cold blood.
  • Man tries to escape justice by claiming “trans panic.”

It didn’t quite work for the “Man” in this case, as Marine Pfc. Joseph Pemberton was found guilty of homicide for strangling and drowning (in a toilet) transgender woman Jennifer Laude after they met in a hotel room for a presumed romantic encounter. While Laude’s family, loved ones, and friends did not receive the verdict they were hoping for (murder), nonetheless Pemberton was sentenced to 6 to 12 years in prison, and a fine of more than $130,000.

The case has also created a minor international incident, with the United States and the Philippines arguing over where Pemberton should serve his time, but really, that tempest in a teapot is hardly going to do anything to help the family of the murdered woman.

Source: USA Today

Transman U.S. Military Pilot Wears a Woman’s Uniform, But is Hopeful

Sergeant Shane Ortega, who serves at Wheeler Airfield in Hawaii, has lived openly as a transgendered man for five years but under current rules, must wear a female military uniform. A bodybuilder who is massively ripped, to use the scientific term, Ortega must wear the largest-sized women’s uniform available. Ortega is very fortunate, however, in that he has been able to keep his career, unlike the careers of thousands of transgender veterans which were prematurely ended by their need to live an authentic and fulfilling life as the gender they were meant to be.
Shane_Ortega

Ortega may have some hope, however, as just this Monday U.S. Secretary of Defense Ash Carter announced that Pentagon leaders are finalizing plans aimed at lifting the ban on transgender individuals in the U.S. military. Ash gave transgender military personnel hope when he stated, in part:

Today, I am issuing two directives to deal with this matter. First, DoD will create a working group to study over the next six months the policy and readiness implications of welcoming transgender persons to serve openly. Led by (Acting) Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness Brad Carson, and composed of military and civilian personnel representing all the military services and the Joint Staff, this working group will report to Deputy Secretary of Defense Bob Work. At my direction, the working group will start with the presumption that transgender persons can serve openly without adverse impact on military effectiveness and readiness, unless and except where objective, practical impediments are identified. Second, I am directing that decision authority in all administrative discharges for those diagnosed with gender dysphoria or who identify themselves as transgender be elevated to Under Secretary Carson, who will make determinations on all potential separations.
(You can read the official Department of Defense Statement at this link.)

Ortega, commenting upon Secretary Carter’s announcement, stated that he is “…pumped up. At the same time I know this is a small step forward and there’s much more to do.”

Source: Transgender military pilot is forced to wear a woman’s uniform

Captain Hannah Winterbourne, Transgender Officer and Gentlewoman

Captain Hannah Winterbourne is no stranger to conflict. In addition to her service in Afghanistan, all her life she fought an even greater conflict within herself – that of her gender identity. Not only has her transition been wildly successful – thanks to the British Army having a good policy in place since 1999 – but she is now the transgender representative for the British Army, helping with education, welfare, and issues transgender soldiers may have.

Which of course all begs the question: why is the United States military completely unable to handle the issue of openly transgender soldiers? Why can the UK do it, and not us? The reason, dear readers, is almost certainly not due to a problem with our military, but more with our society. And transgender acceptance within our society is a battle which is still very much underway.

Hannah Winterbourne: Soldier who has become Army’s first transgender officer says “I was living an act” – Mirror Online.

Chelsea Manning Could Get Transfer to Civilian Prison

In what I feel is somewhat surprising news, it appears that the Pentagon may be negotiating to transfer Chelsea Manning to a civilian prison in order to allow her to receive hormone therapy and other transgender consideration and treatment.

Manning is a very controversial figure even in my community – many transgender people I know will proclaim in public that they support her, but in private they will do a facepalm and exclaim “we really don’t need this kind of publicity.” Personally, I admit to being torn. Obviously she should have treatment, but I also very much wish she would sort of vanish from the news so the word “transgender” would stop being associated with “leaker,” “traitor,” or “criminal.”

Transgender Leaker Chelsea Manning Could Get Transfer to Civilian Prison – ABC News.

Defense Secretary Hagel ‘Open’ to Transgender People Serving in Military

Some further encouraging news for those in the transgender community who wish to serve their country in the nation’s armed forces. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel says he is open to reviewing the ban on transgender service. More explicitly, he says:

“The issue of transgender is a bit more complicated because it has a medical component to it. These issues require medical attention. Austere locations where we put our men and women in many cases don’t always provide that kind of opportunity … I do think it continually should be reviewed. I’m open to that, by the way. I’m open to those assessments because, again, I go back to the bottom line. Every qualified American who wants to serve our country should have an opportunity if they fit the qualifications and can do it. This is an area that we’ve not defined enough.

If he’s going to do something, he had best do it in the next 2 years. There is at least an even chance that the transgender-friendly Obama Administration will be instead replaced with a transgender-hostile Republican Administration, so getting as much passed and as much set in precedent as possible before such a thing may happen is critical.

Hagel ‘Open’ to Transgender People Serving in Military – Washington Wire – WSJ.

Pentagon’s ‘Human Goals’ Charter Excludes Trans Civilian Workers – But It’s Not That Bad, Really

This is a disappointment for our community, yes, but the practical impact is actually highly limited and not as bad as some bloggers are claiming. Why do I say this?

  • It doesn’t set into stone or provide any additional backing for the exclusion of transgender workers. In fact all it does is just simply pass us by. This is actually good, because then it’s a much simpler policy decision process to just clarify that transgender workers are included.
  • As the article notes correctly, the civilian workers are already protected under the EEOC decision in Macy v. Holder, which impacts all Federal workers covered by the EEOC, which includes the Department of Defense.

In fact, in a more detailed look at this topic at the Washington Blade, there is some more encouraging information given in the form of some official quotes:

But there is no reference to gender identity. Transgender people are barred from service in the military because of medical regulations, despite growing efforts among LGBT advocates to push for openly transgender service.

Lt. Cmdr. Nathan Christensen, a Pentagon spokesperson, said “gender identity” wasn’t included in the section for civilian workers because it would fall under the category of “sex” in the charter.

“The Department did not specifically list ‘gender identity’ in the civilian equal employment opportunity section of the Human Goals document because discrimination against a transgender individual could be covered as a form of prohibited ‘sex discrimination,’ which is listed in the charter,” Christensen said.

Regarding the absence of “gender identity” from the military service portion of the document, Christensen said “there are no plans to change” to change the policy on transgender service.

“The Department considers that service members must serve in austere environments, many of which make necessary and ongoing treatments related to sex reassignment and many other conditions untenable,” Christensen said. “Policies on military personnel and health care regarding transgender members are intended to meet the needs of the services, which include the ability to deploy to and serve in austere environments with limited (and perhaps no) access to medical care for prolonged periods on little or no notice.”

While many may believe that this medical justification is merely thinly-veneered bigotry, remember that it wasn’t that long ago that we were excluded on the basis that we were “guilty of moral turpitude,” “disruptive to troop morale,” or even “mentally ill,” as opposed to having medical needs.

In short, this is a disappointment but it’s not really a snub and it’s not a step backwards for us, merely a missed step forward.

Pentagon releases ‘human goals’ charter that excludes transgender civilian workers – LGBTQ Nation.

Study Urges U.S. Military to Reconsider Ban on Transgender Personnel

Transgender_Seal

This study, conducted by the Palm Center, part of San Francisco State University, find little to be concerned about and much which could be improved if the ban on transgender military personnel was lifted. The study will likely take some serious heat from accusations of bias, however, because the person who funded it was Jennifer Pritzker, a billionaire transwoman.

One vocal critic of the report has this to say:

Center for Military Readiness President Elaine Donnelly, a woman who had previously argued that the human rights violations at Abu Ghraib happened as a result of women being allowed in the military, and was one of the loudest opponents of the repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, voiced opposition to Palm Center’s report.

“This is putting an extra burden on men and women in the military that they certainly don’t need and they don’t deserve,” Donnelly told the Associated Press. Donnelly also suggested that allowing transgender servicemembers would lead to an increase in sexual assault.

Of course transgender persons already are serving in the military, they’re just doing it in stealth…and yet, where is all that sexual assault? And how come other countries can somehow manager it, such as Australia, Belgium, Canada, the Czech Republic, Israel, the Netherlands, Spain, Sweden, Thailand, and the United Kingdom?

Study Urges U.S. Military to Reconsider Ban on Transgender Personnel | Advocate.com.

NY Times: The Courage of Transgender Soldiers, Plus Una Rants

CateMcGregorLieutenant Colonel Cate McGregor – a real heroine.

There’s really no sugar-coating it – the treatment of our transgender fighting men and women is an utter disgrace…and yet, here we are. In this article there is one section which really should be called out for reading.

This isn’t the case in other countries. At least 12 now officially allow transgender individuals to serve openly in their defense forces. Britain has allowed transgender people to serve openly since 1999, and Australia since 2010.

The flags of these countries had hung above Ryan’s control station in Afghanistan. “I wear an American uniform and I represent a country supposedly defined by liberty and equality,” he told me. But “my allies are welcome to serve in a way that has most certainly just cost me my livelihood. If these countries’ soldiers, sailors, airmen and marines can serve openly and authentically as transgender women and men, why can’t I?”

Understanding the hatred of homophobic and transphobic red-blooded Americans on a general level doesn’t require much of a stretch. The average American is somewhat of a xenophobic ignoramus who fears anything which might disturb them in their gated subdivisions of self-imposed apartheid. Their dreams are simple ones – football games, mowing the lawn, raising the kids, and alcohol. They sulk and fume and titter like Gladys Kravitz because Mr. Green doesn’t mow his lawn on the same day as they do, and Ms. Violet parks her car in clear violation of the HOA-mandated method.

Suburban SprawlUniformity is bliss…

Their lives are simple and dull, and at some point while the commercials are running they grasp for meaning in life, because theirs has none. This has them turn to authoritarian religions and political groups, where the same lockstep narrow-minded conformity is the rule of law. So they gleefully adopt the misreadings of books which were originally largely filled with love and acceptance, to develop a hysterical homophobia and a societal uncanny valley which is both deep and wide.

Ironically, these folks also tend to be the ones pounding the drum for war, safe in their jobs and homes and living a life of luxury not conceptualized by any society before ours. It’s an extension of their xenophobia – “kill those towelheads!” they think, as they put 30 gallons of gasoline from the Middle East into their Ford F-350 Crew Cab “commuter car.” All the while acting like chickenhawks – “get our troops over there so we can get more cheap gas! I’m a big-assed American and I need a big assed car! Jesus wants this!”

fillingupI don’t want no gay gasoline…or gasoline that thinks it’s diesel…

And yet these same people have the unmitigated gall to mock, deride, demean, and even assault our brave transgender sisters and brothers who step forward to volunteer to serve in the military and put their lives on the line? And they have the audacity to pronounce like Solomon, while balancing a bowl of nachos on their gut, “whudahell, we gonna have a bunch of Corporal Klingers in the Army? That ain’t right.”

No, my idiotic imaginary hobgoblin, what “ain’t right” is the disrespect shown towards my sisters and brothers who are serving or who want to serve. Pretty please, with sugar on it – let them do their freaking jobs.

Someone I know often says “the world isn’t fair, it’s round” to which I answered once “no, it’s an oblate spheroid. The difference is we as a people can make the world fair. We cannot make it round.”

The Courage of Transgender Soldiers – NYTimes.com.

The Pentagon’s Transgender Problem

This article taught me a few things I did not know, such as the fact that in Canada, Thailand, and Israel transgender soldiers are allowed to serve. I find this unusual for Israel, and need to investigate. I was also surprised to see that missing a testicle still disqualifies one for military service. There are also many good links in the article to related transgender topics and papers.

The Pentagon’s Transgender Problem | Mother Jones.

Serving in Silence

Lesbian_Naval
The Williams Institute has released a new report on transgender veterans,Still Serving in Silence: Transgender Service Members and Veterans in the National Transgender Discrimination Survey. This report is a statistical survey of 1,261 transgender veterans and currently serving troops, and asks them a variety of questions about their experiences, including discrimination and challenges which they have faced.

Edited to add: yes I know the ladies in the photograph are almost certainly not transgender, based on the interviews with them. I can’t show a photo of a transwoman or transman kissing their spouse, because…we can’t. That’s part of the problem.

Transgender Military Service Examined With $1.35 Million Grant

Members of San Diego's gay and lesbian community gather to celebrate the expiration of the U.S. military policy "Don't Ask Don't Tell" at the San Diego LGBT community centerWell isn’t this big news? The same research center which helped end “don’t ask, don’t tell” has now received a huge grant to explore transgender military service. The grant will fund 11 studies and 16 researchers over three years, for the purpose of determining if military readiness would be compromised by the inclusion of transgender troops.

Transgender Military Service Examined With $1.35 Million Grant | Advocate.com.

Warren J. Blumenfeld: Revolution vs. Reform: Moving Beyond the Assimilationist ‘4 Ms’ of the LGB Movement

This is a lengthy but interesting essay on the 4 M’s of the LGB movement, and with a prominent note about how transgender people are being excluded from the LGB movement.

The 4 M’s are:

  1. Marriage Equality.
  2. Military Inclusion.
  3. Media Visibility.
  4. Making Money.

Warren J. Blumenfeld: Revolution vs. Reform: Moving Beyond the Assimilationist ‘4 Ms’ of the LGB Movement.

‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ Still Applies to Transgender Service Members

 

I think it could be a while until transgender service members are allowed, for medical reasons if nothing else, rather than psychological ones. I liked this quote from the article.

“Don’t Ask/Don’t Tell was repealed to end discrimination against service members on the basis of sexual orientation and identity,” Rep. Keith Ellison, D-Minn., wrote in an email to U.S. News. “There is a ‘T’ in ‘LGBT’.”

Ellison has been among the most outspoken members of Congress on this issue, and is vice chairman of the Congressional Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Caucus.

‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ Still Applies to Transgender Service Members – US News and World Report.