08 March 2015

Army Chipping Away At Transgender Ban

Could it be that a tide is eroding discriminatory laws and policies?  

(If it is, what were those laws and policies made of?)

While transgenders aren't allowed--yet--to serve in any branch of the US Armed Forces, the day we are allowed in might be in sight.

Last month, the Army approved of hormone treatments for Chelsea Manning, the transgender soldier charged with divulging classified documents to WikiLeaks.  Around the same time Air Force Secretary Deborah James said that she favors lifting the ban against letting transgenders serve.  And Ashton Carter, the new Defense Secretary, said he is "open minded" about transgender troops, adding that whether or not a person can serve should be based on nothing more than his or her ability to serve.  According to White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest, President Obama endorsed Carter's comments.

Now the Army has issued a directive saying to protect transgender soldiers from being dismissed by mid-level officers. Instead, the decision to discharge is placed in the hands of the service's top civilian for personnel matters.

In essence, it means that any officer would have to explain his or her decision to discharge a transgender soldier to a high-ranking civilian leader.  Most officers would be reluctant to do that, as it can be damaging to their careers.   
What's interesting is that the Army is doing essentially the same thing the Pentagon did when it was backing away from "Don't Ask, Don't Tell":  It required a review, by the Department of Defense's top lawyer and service secretaries, of decisions to discharge gay and lesbian soldiers.  As a result, no more gay and lesbian soldiers were dismissed and "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" was overturned.

The times, they are a-changing.

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