Trans community calling military policy a return of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”

Military Troops photo courtesy of Palm Center
Military Troops photo courtesy of Palm Center

Palm Center memo says trans policy is a ban 

The Pentagon plans to reinstate a ban on military service by transgender Americans this week. It is raising concerns by LGBT community and transgender advocates that politics is trumping both military readiness and equal treatment of service members. A new Palm Center memo said today the Trump administration’s policy operates as a transgender ban.

Only a small fraction of the thousands of transgender troops is protected by a “grandfather” clause unde the new policy. The vast majority are subject to discharge if a need to transition, or a diagnosis of gender dysphoria, becomes known. Even the grandfather clause is provisional because it may be revoked.

Palm Center’s Director, Aaron Belkin
Palm Center’s Director, Aaron Belkin

“Fully 100% of transgender troops are threatened and stigmatized by this ban,” said Palm Center’s Director, Aaron Belkin. “The Pentagon has breached the trust of our service members and our country, relying on deceptive claims that its policy is not actually a ban and that it is needed to preserve readiness. In reality, as senior military leaders have said, this ban will harm readiness.”

Some experts view the policy as a “don’t ask, don’t tell” for transgender troops. DADT refers to the obsolete policy that banned service by gays and lesbians if their orientation became known. In years past, DADT defenders also insisted it was not a LGBT ban as long as service members did not “tell.”

DoD disqualifies all applicants with a history of gender dysphoria

“When DoD disqualifies all applicants with a history of gender dysphoria (unless they renounce transgender identity for years) and all applicants who have ever received treatment for gender dysphoria, that is a ban.” said Palm’s memo today. The Making of a Ban: How DTM-19-004 Works to Push Transgender People Out of Military Service, reads, in part: When DoD tells non-grandfathered transgender personnel — about 8,000 people now, according to DoD’s own estimate, not even counting those in the future — that coming forward can lead to separation, that is a ban. DTM-19-004 depends on directly banning the transgender people who are immediately identifiable and threatening the rest, forcing them to remain silent and invisible. It is ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ all over again.”

All five service chiefs have told Congress they experienced no problems with unit cohesion during the first two years of open transgender service. Many senior and retired medical and military figures, including former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Mike Mullen, have said inclusive service promotes readiness. And two recent polls, by Quinnipiac and Dalia Research, found that 70% of respondents favor allowing transgender Americans to serve in the military.

Related story here

Read the memo here