September 10, 2013

Reconsidering one’s gender identity involves questioning what is perhaps the deepest sense of self a person possesses. It is the part of our identity that is declared even before we are born, and it is often — culturally — one of the strongest signifiers that denotes how others might behave towards us. People who dare to confront this norm and expectation demonstrate a tremendous amount of courage. Ironically enough, however, transgender people are alienated in the U.S. establishment most often also associated with the term "courage": the United States Armed Forces. Discrimination against transgender servicewomen and servicemen continues to be systematic within the military, despite recent associated improvements. And it's vitally important for Americans — especially those who already fought for gay and lesbian inclusion in the military — to understand that equality has not yet been reached, that employment discrimination is still alive and well, and that military policymakers must take another painful look at the inheritance of their intolerance.

The repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” (DADT), which went into effect in September 2011, does not liberate transgender personnel in the same way it does lesbian, gay, or bisexual personnel, as "the repeal marked the end of discriminatory practices in the military based on sexual orientation, but it did not end the prohibition on transgender military service.” With the battle for LGBT rights seemingly now "won" within the military, transgender individuals are left to face the same humiliation of hiding their identity that they were faced with before.