Palm Center, known for DADT research, receives $1.35 million for trans military service studies

On July 30, 2013, it was announced that the Palm Center, best known for its extensive research that revealed the discriminatory and baseless nature of the so-called "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" (DADT) policy, will receive $1.35 million in grants from the Tawani Foundation to conduct studies on transgender service in the U.S. military.

The director of programs at the Palm Center's Transgender Military Initiative, Indra Lusero, has recently commissioned eleven studies over a period of three years to investigate the various policies that must be in place in order for transgender personnel to openly serve in the armed forces. According to the Palm Center's Call for Proposals, these eleven studies will "seek to answer questions related to readiness, morale, welfare, personnel requirements, and management" for transgender service members. The research provided will cover a wide range of key, transgender-specific military issues from gender-based discrimination and how it is currently dealt with according to military law, to physical and medical standards of care that will need to be in place for transgender military personnel to openly serve in the military.

One proposed study in particular aims to investigate the effect of transgender inclusion on the combat readiness of other countries' armed forces, in efforts to see "whether and how the US armed forces could [also] include transgender troops without undermining readiness." Currently, it is widely known that Australia, Great Britain, and Canada, among other US allied nations, have had longstanding policies of transgender inclusion in the armed forces.

United States transgender service members are at present prohibited from openly serving, and risk discharge from the military if they are identified as trans or gender-nonconforming. Along with the pervasive discrimination that transgender service members must face while closeted and in service, antiquated regulations and documentation policies make it difficult for transgender members of the armed forces to receive the federal benefits they deserve. Research from institutions like the Palm Center may provide the means to effect real change for trans people in the armed forces.