While U.S. Fumbles On DADT, Australia & Canada Accommodate Trans Servicemembers

Posted on 10 Dec 2010 at 8:44pm

One day Henny Penny was scratching in the farmyard looking for something good to eat when, suddenly, something hit her on the head. “My goodness me!” she said. “The sky must be falling down. I must go and tell the king.”

Henny Penny

Above is the opening paragraph to the traditional telling of the children’s story Henny Penny — Henny Penny being a hen who kept repeating the mistruth to all willing to listen that “The sky is falling!” Image: Australian FlagShe convinced her friends Cocky Locky, Ducky Lucky, Goosey Loosey, and Turkey Lurkey that the sky is falling along her way to the king — the king who never ended up hearing her message of doom — but the sky was never really falling.

As I watched the Family Research Council’s (FRC’s) November 30, 2010 Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell (DADT) press conference, my mind kept wandering back to the signature line from Henny Penny: The sky is falling! As I’ve listened to the statements of Senator John McCain on DADT — as Senator McCain has rhetorically moved the goal posts on what it would take for him to vote for repeal of DADT — my mind keeps wandering back to the signature line from Henny Penny: The sky is falling!

We know, if only from the examples of other militaries in our allied countries who allow lesbian, gay, and bisexual servicemembers to serve openly, that the sky won’t fall if DADT is repealed. The military will still be able to accomplish its missions if DADT should be repealed.

In fact, other allied countries are now figuring out how to accomplish the accommodation of transgender servicemembers. Image: Canadian FlagIn the Sydney Morning Herald‘s Sex-Change Soldier Forces Army To Scrap Transgender Policy, we learn that Australia is revamping their policy on transsexuals to clearly allow them to transition on active duty. And Pink News reported in their piece Canada’s Military Updates Uniform For Transgender Soldiers that Canada’s military has put together a new policy on how trans service members should be accommodated.

From the Pink News piece:

While debate continues in the US about openly gay troops, the Canadian military has been putting together a new policy on how trans soldiers should be treated, the National Post reports.

The policy says they should wear the uniform of their “target” gender but must be given privacy and respect. For example, no reason must be given when a person’s name is changed on military records.

The new policy does not allow military honours to be reassigned to new names, saying “there is no legal authority for rewriting history”.

Canada’s military first paid for gender treatment for a member in 1998 and deals with one or two trans troops every year.

So while the United States can’t seem to get past the stage of discussing whether or not lesbian, gay, and bisexual servicemembers should be allowed to serve openly, some of our allies have moved on to accommodating the transitions of transsexual servicemembers.

I believe what Australia and Canada are at with their policies towards lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) servicemembers is where the United States should be in its discussions of LGBT servicemembers, but instead we’re still discussing whether or not LGB servicemembers should even be allowed to serve openly in the military services, let alone be accommodated in serving their country while in military uniforms.

The sky isn’t falling. We in the United States can allow lesbian, gay, and bisexual servicemembers to serve openly in the military services, and still be extremely professional, and capable, of meeting mission requirements. The United States could go much further in accommodating lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender servicemembers than just a repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell that would accommodate LGB servicemembers, and still be able to capably and professionally meet the country’s military mission requirements.

That the United States still is functioning with antiquated policy regarding LGBT servicemembers says something about my country, and what it says isn’t particularly good.

Hat Tip to Monica Helms and Robin McGeehee. Emoticon: Hat tip
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