Transgender People in the Military: Don't Ask? Don't Tell? Don't Enlist!

a Chicago School of Professional Psychology , Chicago , Illinois , USA.
Journal of Homosexuality (Impact Factor: 0.78). 02/2013; 60(2-3):436-57. DOI: 10.1080/00918369.2013.744933
Source: PubMed


The repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell offered legal equality to sexual minorities in the military. However, this big step forward had no impact on the policy of exclusion and rejection and the fear and secrecy that resulted for transgender people (whether lesbian, gay, bisexual, or heterosexual). In this article, we argue that transgender citizens should have equal opportunity to honorably serve their country, and to be treated with respect and sensitivity as they do so. Many transgender persons may be drawn to military service and its ethos of masculine values. However, they are currently not permitted entry, and, if they are to enter, must remain hidden or face dismissal, leaving them vulnerable to harassment. While they report both positive and negative experiences during their service, research documents discrimination in veterans' healthcare as well as mental health risks resulting from fear and harassment. In contrast to the United States, 11 countries include transgender people in their militaries. Drawing in part from their examples, we end with recommendations for change in the direction of respect and equality of opportunity.

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    ABSTRACT: At least eighteen countries allow transgender personnel to serve openly, but the United States is not among them. In this article, we assess whether US military policies that ban transgender service members are based on medically sound rationales. To do so, we analyze Defense Department regulations and consider a wide range of medical data. Our conclusion is that there is no compelling medical reason for the ban on service by transgender personnel, that the ban is an unnecessary barrier to health care access for transgender personnel, and that medical care for transgender individuals should be managed using the same standards that apply to all others. Removal of the military's ban on transgender service would improve health outcomes, enable com-manders to better care for their troops, and reflect the military's commitment to providing outstanding medical care for all military personnel.
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    ABSTRACT: We offer a theoretical framework to advance our understanding of the psychology of transgender service members—the most understudied and mysterious class of US military personnel. Using grounded theory methods with interview data collected from clandestinely-serving active-duty, guard and reserve military members from the US Army, Navy, Air Force and Marine Corps who self-identified as transgender or transsexual, we reveal a latent structure of Self Determination Theory (Deci & Ryan, 1985; Deci & Ryan, 2000; Ryan & Deci, 2000). The variance in our data heavily centers around the concepts of autonomy, competence and relatedness, illustrating how post-DADT military personnel policy, which excludes open transgender service, impacts the mental well-being of transgender service members.
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