Bring Trans in the US Military

Trans people, as some people may know, were not included in DADT and so are also not free to serve now that it has been revoked. Trans people usually can’t serve because in order to get treatment for transsexualism, trans people often have to be diagnosed with Gender Identity Disorder, which is a mental health issue, and which disables someone from serving.

Basically, Klinger was right, except everyone knew he wasn’t a real crossdresser; he just didn’t want to be in the war. Most crossdressers who serve do so while deep in the closet, just as many gay and lesbian service members did in the past. Even crossdressing is still grounds for discharge.


DADT – Trans = Better, Not Best

I’m glad DADT has gone the way of history (and somewhat amazed such an idiotic policy had such a long tenure), but the fact of it is trans people are not covered by the repeal of DADT: crossdressing and cross-gender presentation is still considered mental illness and grounds for discharge in the US military.

JAC Stringer has explained in a post over at Trans Group Blog:

What bothers me more than the issues within the military is the greater “LGB” community’s reaction, or lack their of, to the exclusion of trans* communities. I’m so glad today is here so I won’t be invited to another “Yay DADT! All Our Problems are Over!” facebook event; after months of it I’m fed up. Yes, we should be celebrating, but its downright lousy to rub it in trans people’s faces saying “we don’t have to worry anymore” and “problem solved.” If you’re going to go that far you might as well just call today what it is, yet another “We Forgot You, Again” day, or “We Matter More” day. And yes, I do have to remind people that our problems are not over. I’m not a downer, I’m an activist. I’m not bitter, I’m fucking furious. The LGB community knows what it’s like to be ignored, passed over, discriminated against, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t capable of taking their rights and privileges for granted. The LGB community makes strides with the help of the trans* community, the trans* community is booted out, and what should be our joy becomes a part of our pain. But in of every disappointment there is room for action. It holds me together when people do speak out and recognize that we are not done yet. We must continue to work, continue to fight, and never be satisfied until we all are equal.

I’ve heard today described as “the light at the end of the tunnel.” If this is your truth, I celebrate joyously for you. And as you reach that light at the end of the tunnel, I hope you remember that some of us have been left behind and we are still working in the dark.

So if you find our trans friends a little less celebratory than you might expect, it’s not even the incremental change that’s getting us down – it’s that so many others in the LGB don’t even seem to know a huge chunk of people are still, as JAC puts it, “working in the dark.”

Breaking: Judge Orders No DADT Enforcement

Wow:

A federal judge on Tuesday ordered the U.S. military to stop enforcing the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy, effectively ending the ban on openly gay troops.

U.S. District Judge Virginia Phillips’ permanent worldwide injunction — praised by gay rights organizations — orders the military “immediately to suspend and discontinue any investigation, or discharge, separation, or other proceeding, that may have been commenced” under the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy.

The judge, a Clinton appointee based in the Central District of California, previously ruled that the policy regarding gays serving in the military violated service members’ Fifth Amendment rights to due process and freedom of speech, but had delayed issuing the injunction.

The military was sued by Log Cabin Republicans, a gay rights group.

LCRs, I promise never to make fun of you again.

Good News: ENDA & DADT Update

ENDA & the bill to repeal DADT are supposed to go to the floor this month!

Meanwhile, the whip count on ENDA, which Obama also backs, is entering its fifth week. The effort has most recently focused on rechecking support among Members thought to be more comfortable with the legislation than politically imperiled moderates who have raised most of the concerns, one source familiar with the effort said. That, the source said, bodes well for its progress. But many Members remain officially undecided and have quietly voiced frustrations about the prospect of taking a tough vote that they see as a distraction from an agenda focused on job creation.

“It seems to run contrary to what the Speaker said a few months back about focusing on jobs and moving away from these controversial items,” one senior Democratic aide said. “Anything that’s not specifically tied to keeping the economy going raises red flags for folks.”

But Frank said that he is optimistic about the vote count and that transgender protections will remain in the bill.

“There’s no chance of doing it without it,” he said of the transgender protections.

Frank said he’s told wavering Democrats that “the principle is the same. It’s discrimination.”

He said concessions were made in the drafting of the language to address moderates’ concerns. For instance, Frank said, transgender people with “one set of genitals” would not be able to go to a bathroom for people with another set of genitals.

And, Frank said, they also would have to have a “consistent gender presentation” in order to be able to sue for discrimination.

“They can’t sit there with a full beard and a dress,” Frank said.

We’re going to need to make a lot of calls, folks. Stay tuned.

Trans Documentary Drinking Game

In light of the documentary about Chloe Prince that will air tomorrow night, I thought we should all be prepared for what looks like it’s going to be a doozy of a predictable documentary.

So, the rules, such as they are, for watching a trans documentary:

  1. Putting on makeup. Two drinks for reverse camera shot into mirror.
  2. Doing anything better done in jeans and sneakers in heels and a skirt. Examples: cleaning the house, shoveling the sidewalk, yard work, walking the dog.
  3. Before picture shown. Two drinks for picture in stereotypical male mode (sports team, facial hair, military, wedding tux)
  4. Camera shot putting on or taking off a bra.
  5. Photo of any wig, breast form, padding, etc.
  6. Surprise disclosure, when a trans woman is introduced and then partway through the piece, her secret is revealed.
  7. Camera focus on masculine body parts: hands, feet, Adam’s apple, height, etc.
  8. Any reference to genital surgery that refers to “becoming a woman” or “finally a woman”
  9. Minor chords played softly on a piano
  10. talk show host saying “you go girl”
  11. any discussion of plumbing or electricity
  12. black and white childhood shots, MTF with cap gun and cowboy hat, FTM as ballerina.
  13. Trans woman saying, “I am not a crossdresser. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.”
  14. Trans woman clutching large teddy bear in hospital bed.
  15. Birthday balloons after surgery.
  16. Trans woman with new boyfriend (after shot of tearful ex-wife).
  17. Trans woman sitting in chair in above-the-knee skirt, posed so you can see what great gams she has.
  18. Patient wheeled off to surgery …
  19. … lingering shot of the hospital bed with the teddy bear (or wife) left behind.
  20. Shot of protaganist sitting at the computer keyboard, looking at a trans support website or surgeon’s website….
  21. Any helping professional teaching deportment
  22. Camera in the operating room – just drink the whole bottle
  23. Any and all deployments of soft focus = 1 shot
  24. Close up of dotted lines in magic marker on pale fleshy body parts = 1 shot
  25. Earnest surgeon describes his motivation as “to help [girlname] become the woman she’s always really felt herself to be” = 3 shots
  26. Before picture with extreme facial hair – 1 shot
  27. Before picture in uniform – Military, Football, etc… – 2 shots
  28. Video from hair removal session : Laser – 1 shot, electrolysis – 2 shots
  29. Before picture – Last time she wore a dress (F2M) – 1 shots
  30. Breast binding – 2 shots
  31. Taking Hormones – Self-injecting -3 shots, orals – 1 shot
  32. Did anyone mention an arduous and lonely childhood?
  33. Meeting the school bully as “the new me” at the High School reunion?
  34. Looking at the old picture of self and saying something to the effect of “he was a nice guy….” or “Ken was a lot of fun, but his time is over. It’s Ginger’s turn now!”
  35. Trans woman claiming to have IS chromosomal pattern, an affinity for washing dishes, a sudden dislike of sports, etc.

Believe it or not, these are not the most snarky suggestions by some of our mHB board members. Also remember: there are quite a few people who hang out on our boards who have done this kind of media work, including me & Betty, of course, but also Jenny Boylan, amongst others. We need to laugh at ourselves as much as we laugh at the inanity of it all.

Twelve-Steppers should find their own version, of course. Maybe those ice cream poppers? But the point is to feel as physically ill by the end as the drinking crowd.

(Thanks and love to Gwen Smith who wrote her own version of this back in 2005 and to anyone else who has posted their version of this game.)

Raped Soldiers

Here’s another update – and more chilling news – about the astronomical levels of rape and sexual harassment inflicted on female soldiers serving in the US military. To really add insult to injury, the military’s health insurance plan doesn’t pay for rape kits in many circumstances.

This is embarassing and pathetic for us as a country.

In the meantime, Ann Dunwoody has become the first female four-star general. Maybe she can do something about it.

Veterans Day

First, thank you to all the Veterans out there who have served this country with honor and courage.

Second, the results of the survey TAVA (Transgender American Veterans’ Association) conducted are available on their website. From their press release:

The Palm Center at the University of California, Santa Barbara has released the findings of a survey, conducted by Transgender American Veterans Association (TAVA), that shows that transgender veterans are being turned away and being mistreated in high numbers by Veterans Administration medical facilities.  The survey of 827 U.S. military veterans and active-duty personnel mark the first major empirical findings on transgender people in the military. This represents a strong sampling from what is estimated to be approximately 300,000 veterans in the US who identify as being transgender.

Or, to paraphrase the way Monica Helms put it on a recent call, ‘Trans veterans want at least the same bad benefits other veterans get.’ Do check it out.

Cindy McCain

Cindy McCain has said she wants Barack Obama to trade shoes/places with her, so that he would know what it’s like to have a child serving in the US military.

Wow would she be surprised at what it’s like to be black in America.

Congrats, Diane Schroer

& Thank you, ACLU.

WASHINGTON, DC September 19, 2008 — Today the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia ruled in favor of Diane Schroer, supporting her claim that she was wrongfully denied employment by the Library of Congress after she notified them that she intended to transition.

In 2004, while still living as David, retired US Army Colonel Diane Schroer was offered and accepted a job with the Library of Congress. When she notified her new employers of her intention to transition, the offer was rescinded. After a highly distinguished military career, Col. Schroer decided to fight once more to uphold American values of fairness and justice.

“True to form, Diane Schroer has once again demonstrated her bravery and her commitment to American democracy,” noted Mara Keisling, Executive Director of the National Center for Transgender Equality. “By fighting for her rights, she has defended the honor and rights of all transgender people who have been discriminated against on the job. NCTE congratulates her on this historic win and applauds the tremendous work of the ACLU in securing this victory for us all.”

In his ruling United States District Judge James Robertson stated, “After hearing the evidence presented at trial, I conclude that Schroer was discriminated against because of sex in violation of Title VII.” He went on to note, “None of the five assertedly legitimate reasons that the Library has given for refusing to hire Schroer withstands scrutiny.”

Judge Robertson concluded, “In refusing to hire Diane Schroer because her appearance and background did not comport with the decision maker’s sex stereotypes about how men and women should act and appear, and in response to Schroer’s decision to transition, legally, culturally, and physically, from male to female, the Library of Congress violated Title VII’s prohibition on sex discrimination.”

You can read the whole of the decision at the ACLU’s website (pdf).

Thank You

A thank you to all our current soldiers and our veterans today, and to the families of those people who often wait and worry in ways most of us can’t imagine. But an especial thank you to those LGBT veterans who are often dismissed and not acknowledged. If you’d like to read a little of a trans veteran’s views, check out this column from last year by Autumn Sandeen, here’s some info on trans issues re: veterans from NCTE.

Happy Memorial Day. Please don’t drink and drive.

Help the Burmese

Many of you know how much I loved visiting the country of Burma when I got to. Now, after the military junta cracked down on more democracy uprising, there’s been a horrible cyclone that has killed tens of thousands of people.

You can donate directly to the network of Buddhist monks who are doing a great deal of the work in these early days before a lot of international help can get there.

Do donate if you can :https://secure.avaaz.org/en/burma_cyclone/77.php

Unequal Opportunity

A woman in the US military is more likely to be raped or sexually harassed by a fellow serviceman, CO, or even a military doctor than she is to be killed in Iraq…

…reported Keith Olbermann tonight.

Horrifying, and backed up by Jane Harman in The LA Times.

TG Veterans Survey

New Transgender Veterans Survey
Immediate release. Please post this everywhere.
Transgender American Veterans Association
Contact: Monica F. Helms, President
president@tavausa.org
www.tavausa.org

A new survey has been created to achieve a more accurate picture of the state of the transgender American veteran population. Many of the issues facing transgender veterans are no different than those facing the rest of the transgender community. However negotiating healthcare thru the Veterans Administration and dealing with the Department of Defense poses its own unique set of challenges. This survey is also for those transgender people who are still serving in the military and those veterans who identify and are diagnosed as intersex.
Continue reading “TG Veterans Survey”

The Forgotten Veterans

by Monica Helms

Veterans Day is one the three most important days in this country when it comes to patriotism and pride. At the eleventh minute, of the eleventh hour, of the eleventh day, of the eleventh month, we start the day honoring all the veterans who have served this country, both in peace and in war. Today, we have 26 million military veterans in America, but sadly, we lose 1500 WWII each day and a similar number of Korean War veterans as well. Soon, the Vietnam War veterans will pass away in similar numbers.

The men and women who fought in those wars over the last 230-plus years came from every diverse background this country has ever known. People from every race, religion, ethnicity, economic status, social status and sexual orientation have fought, been wounded or died for this country. A current example of sexual orientation is the first person wounded in the current war in Iraq. Eric Alva lost a leg in the very early days of the war and then came out as being gay after his discharge. Continue reading “The Forgotten Veterans”

Monks Defy Orders

Imagine! Dubya finally said something in public I agree with! Today at the beginning of the UN’s general assembly, President Bush announced tighter sanctions on Burma:

He outlined a tightening of financial sanctions on Myanmar and an extension of a ban on visas of officials “responsible for the most egregious violations of human rights” and their families.

“Americans are outraged by the situation in Burma, where a military junta has imposed a 19-year reign of fear,” Mr. Bush said. “Basic freedoms of speech, assembly, and worship are severely restricted. Ethnic minorities are persecuted. Forced child labor, human trafficking, and rape are common.”

& In the meantime, the junta (formerly known as SLORC), have pulled soldiers away from where they’ve been fighting the Karen tribesmen for years now. The Karen will, no doubt, take advantage of the situation, as they were the largest ethnic majority to rise up against the military junta in 1988, as well. Interesting for U.S. policy, but one of the objections of the Karen tribe is that they are not allowed to practice their religion because the practice of Buddhism is state-imposed, and a third of them are… Christian.

Turning Over the Rice Bowl

For six days in a row, young monks in Myanmar (Burma) have protested the treatment of monks by the ruling junta – the same junta who put down the protests / revolution of the early 90s, the same one that keeps human rights leader Aung San Suu Kyi under house arrest.

This time, can we please pay attention? Thousands, including monks, lost their lives last time around, & looking at these young men – I worry about them too.

At least some monks were reportedly refusing to accept alms from members of the military, a refusal, known as “turning over the rice bowl,” that amounts to an ad-hoc gesture of excommunication. The A.P. reported that one monk at the head of the procession held a begging bowl upside down as he marched.

I went to Myanmar years ago now, before I knew that human rights activists asked tourists not to come, & the place haunted me with its beauty. The young monks especially. The U.S. needs to back them, absolutely, loudly & with no apologies to the military. I fear we won’t, considering what’s gone on in Tibet, but at least we don’t have to stand up to the Chinese to help this pro-democracy movement, so maybe there’s a chance. Hopefully the UN sessions later this month that promise to address the issue will.

Trans Couples: Mike & Tasha

My name is Michael, I am a FtM Transsexual. My partner is Natasha, an MtF Transsexual. This is our story….

Depending on where we pick up our story, it all traces back to our high school years. Yes, Natasha and I actually attended the same high school around the same time as each other. Of course back then I was living as female and she was living as male. Natasha is a few years older than me, but our paths did indeed cross during our high school years. As Natasha explains, our lives were meant to cross. She calls our journey of getting together, fate. Continue reading “Trans Couples: Mike & Tasha”

The Greeks* & Now the English

Hey, it works in the UK:

Since the British military began allowing homosexuals to serve in the armed forces in 2000, none of its fears — about harassment, discord, blackmail, bullying or an erosion of unit cohesion or military effectiveness — have come to pass, according to the Ministry of Defense, current and former members of the services and academics specializing in the military. The biggest news about the policy, they say, is that there is no news. It has for the most part become a nonissue.

and

“The boss said, ‘I think you will be surprised that in this day and age it will be a complete anticlimax, because as far as I’m concerned, homosexuals in the military are yesterday’s news.’ ”

From Monday’s New York Times.

* The Ancient Greeks used homoerotic and homosexual bonds to boost the morale of their military.

Church & State

Bad policy is sometimes based not on science, but on belief:

. . . the Pentagon’s top general, Marine Gen. Peter Pace, said that homosexual acts are immoral and should not be condoned by allowing gays to serve in the military. Then . . . Rev. R. Albert Mohler Jr., president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, said that if homosexuality were genetic, it would still be evil and should be treated prenatally.

& It’s on geniuses like these that we base the “don’t ask / don’t tell” policy, even if there is no good evidence that homosexuals make bad soldiers, and conversely, there’s plenty of evidence that sometimes male heterosexual soldiers suck: one third of female soldiers report rape or attempted rape. So no matter what Mohler thinks, is morality really the reason we don’t let (out) gays serve? Of course not.

Cool Women: Mary Ann Wright

From the Feminist Daily News:

Adding to the chorus of women leaders demanding that President Bush retreat from the possibility of war against Iran, retired Army Reserves Colonel and former high-ranking diplomat Mary Ann Wright asked military personnel to refuse potentially imminent orders to attack Iran.

More after the break. Continue reading “Cool Women: Mary Ann Wright”