Among the many values that unite us as Americans, one that is consistently applied time and again through our nation’s history, is the concept of equal treatment under the law.
The recent decision by the Department of Defense (DOD) to recommend a ban on transgender (trans) men and women from serving in the nation’s armed forces is disturbing and odious. The policy singles out the transgender population as unworthy of a military career. The only trans who are allowed to serve are those who do not seek, or actually delay, transition. The policy effectively means that only transgender service members who keep their true identity hidden from others are allowed to serve. The policy implies that counseling, or cross living are inadvisable activities since these would lead to establishing a “history or current diagnosis of gender dysphoria…” as written in the policy. Cross dressing is out as it violates the clause of “Satify[ing] all standards…associated with their biological sex [birth sex].” A trans service member cannot take proactive, therapeutically positive actions for fear of tripping them into a diagnosis, which, under this policy, will trigger separation from the military.
Most demeaning is the policy that trans men and women who have fully transitioned are banned from serving. This can only be described as a denial on the part of DOD that gender transition is acceptable treatment for the gender dysphoric person and that transition, more often than not, eliminates or attenuates gender dysphoria. It also runs counter to the American Psychological Association’s assessment of Transgender health after transition.
Throughout history the military of the United States has officially accepted minorities into its ranks either wholeheartedly or haltingly. It is a process that has reflected the transformative nature of the American experience and often serves as a punctuation mark for the civic debates, and actions, accompanying the struggle for full civil rights by any number of minority groups.
This policy will not last. Ultimately, it will be the American people who have a wonderful sense of fairness, and who can tell when a policy, or law, is unfair, unjust, and unsupportable who will demand change. Trans men and women should have faith that the people will demand their military reflect the full diversity of the United States.