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NOW THAT "DON'T ASK, DON'T TELL" IS HISTORY, WHAT'S NEXT?
On 20 September 2011, after 18 years, the U.S. military moved our country forward by putting an end to the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" (DADT) policy. DADT's demise comes after over $555 million spent and 14,500 lesbian, gay, and bisexual (LGB) men and women discharged. The casualties of the DADT policy ranged from forced silent service, investigation and discharge, or, tragically, death. We cannot forget just how damaging this policy has been to our nation's military by the livelihoods and lives cut short in the name of so-called military readiness.
Now that DADT has been taken down, we are left to consider what happens next. In the days following DADT's demise, many comments were made on the issues not tackled by DADT repeal. Namely transgender servicemember non-inclusivity and servicemembers' partner benefits. Like much of our movement's history, one issue is often tied to another; it is true with DADT.
While DADT is gone, transgender servicemembers still must serve in silence and transgender individuals seeking to enlist into the military may be barred. Presently, the military medical establishment does not recognize the World Professional Association for Transgender Health's Standards of Care for Gender Identity Disorders and will not provide transition-related medical care. Additionally, being transgender is considered a medicallly disqualifying condition and identifying as transgender without undergoing transition surgery is considered a disqualifying psychiatric condition.
Quick Facts About Transgender Non-Inclusivity In Lieu of DADT Repeal
- A history of genital surgery may result in a disqualification for "major abnormalities and defects of the genitalia;"
- Transgender servicemembers seeking treatment outside the military may be subject to criminal action under the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ);
- Transgender persons in the Inactive Reserve Military (IRR) who are in the process of transitioning may need to halt the process if they are recalled and;
- Disclosure of one's being transgender is grounds for discharge.
There is still work to be done for our transgender servicemembers. For most, DADT is gone but for these brave men and women, the closet remains the primary option.
Further Resources for LGBTIQ Military Personnel and Vets: