Transgender veterans have served in the United States military services, and are even now serving in the United States military services. However, they serve in the closet; the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell (DADT) doesn’t result in transgender veterans soon being able to serve openly.
TAVA (TAVA) has a press release out on the congressional votes to repeal DADT. In the press release, the vice-president of the Transgender American Veterans Association (TAVA), Angela Brightfeather, said this in the press release:
It should be recognized that DADT has never included directives concerning Transgender people serving in the military. Therefore, there was no call from Transgender Americans to equally serve in the military of their country, without persecution and discrimination. However, Transgender people who have and still do serve under the same pre-DADT conditions, still find it necessary to lie and hide who they are, contrary to the best traditions of the military.
She then goes on to add:
We now press our GLB brothers and sisters to finish the job and help provide the means for Transgender people to be able to serve their country openly and equally as do all Americans.
We’re going to have a few months to a year of preps to implement repeal — for as y’all may not remember, now the President, the Secretary of Defense, and the Chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff must sign off on lesbian, gay, and bisexual being able to serve openly. With that signing off, policies will need to be set in place for lesbian, gay, and bisexual servicemembers’ open service — such as antidiscrimination policies and servicemember benefits. Basically, the implementation of the repeal of DADT will no doubt keep the DADT focused LGBT organizations busy for quite a number of months.
But that said the question for those organizations focus their missions after the sign-off and policies are set in place will be one of “What are you going to do towards transgender servicemembers being able to serve openly?”
Will these organizations be willing to take on a seventeen-ish year slog towards allowing transgender servicemembers being able to serve openly as they took on a seventeen year slog for lesbian, gay, and bisexual servicemembers being able to serve openly? And probably more importantily, will these organizations be able to raise sufficient funds from the LGBT community members to take on the long and costly for the T people of the LGBT community?
Those are good question. But, I’m for letting the DADT focused LGBT organizations focus during the upcoming months on DADT implementation. Legislation or policy that would allow transgender people to serve openly isn’t at the top of most trans people’s agendas — most would rather prioritize a fully inclusive Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) over legislation to allow transgender people to serve in the military services openly — but the DADT focused LGBT organizations are going to have to address the question of transgender servicemembers being able to serve openly at a point in the not too distant future.
The TAVA press release:
Transgender American Veterans Association Salutes the Repeal Vote of DADT
Contact: Monica Helms: firstname.lastname@example.org
Denny Meyer: email@example.com / (718) 849-5665
We are proud of our democracy that Congress passed this monumental repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell. Even though transgender people are still going to be separated from military service, Transgender American Veterans Association salutes this passage. We who have served our nation proudly now anticipate our own progress to freedom and equality.
Monica Helms, President of TAVA said, “For 17 years the US has made their gay lesbian and bisexual service members second class citizens and caused them to have to lie about who they are and who they love. No longer will that be the case. We now turn our attention to allowing transgender people to serve openly.”
“It should be recognized that DADT has never included directives concerning Transgender people serving in the military.” Angela Brightfeather, TAVA’s Vice President stated, “Therefore, there was no call from Transgender Americans to equally serve in the military of their country, without persecution and discrimination. However, Transgender people who have and still do serve under the same pre-DADT conditions, still find it necessary to lie and hide who they are, contrary to the best traditions of the military. We now press our GLB brothers and sisters to finish the job and help provide the means for Transgender people to be able to serve their country openly and equally as do all Americans.”
Many of America’s allied nations have long since allowed open transgender service along with the service of those with alternate sexual orientation. The next frontier is for the United States is to progress to full and complete inclusion of the right to serve our nation. It is TAVA’s expectation that now that DADT has been repealed that all those involved in achieving the repeal will now turn their attention to help transgender Americans also be able serve openly.
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Founded in 2003, the Transgender American Veterans Association (TAVA) is a 501 (c) 3 organization that acts proactively with other concerned civil rights and human rights organizations to ensure that transgender veterans will receive appropriate care for their medical conditions in accordance with the Veterans Health Administration’s Customer Service Standards promise to “treat you with courtesy and dignity . . . as the first class citizen that you are.” Further, TAVA will help in educating the Department of Veterans Affairs (DVA) and the Department of Defense (DoD) on issues regarding fair and equal treatment of transgender individuals. Also, TAVA will help the general transgender community when deemed appropriate and within the IRS guidelines.