06/01/10-by Bridgette P. LaVictoire
There have been some questions raised regarding whether or not the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell will cover transpeople. Given that one of the activists who chained themselves to the White House fence is a transwoman, it is a valid question. DADT does not cover transpeople in the least. Repealing DADT will not allow anyone who is transsexual to serve so long as they are already open about it, and they are in transition. The veterans who have transitioned did so after their service was over, not before.
The ban on transsexuals and interssexuals serving in the military is not because of DADT, but due largely on medical grounds. Genital reassignment surgery is considered a major medical procedure and anyone who has had to undergo major medical procedures is barred from entering service. Many of those veterans who have been severely wounded in combat, such as losing a limb, are often assigned stateside in order to allow others to go to the front. This is an old method of handling personnel shortages.
For transpeople, though not all intersexuals, the reliance upon hormones is another disqualifying factor. The synthetic hormones raise the risks of certain physical problems that could be exacerbated during combat or during strenuous training exercises. While this may be true, I can imagine that the ability to get the synthetic hormones on a battlefield or in a remote area during training could be extremely problematic.
Finally, and again for transpeople alone, the rationale behind transpeople not serving in the military is psychological. Because transsexuality is seen as being a major psychological issue, it is usually used to exclude people from the military.
Alright, all of this is wonderful, and makes some logical sense. It may not be the actual reasoning that the military used, but there it is.
Transsexuals and interssexuals are excluded from military service by regulation, and not by law. This means that the White House could, at any time, order the Pentagon to craft regulations to accommodate members of both groups within the service.
This is not a call to action or an attempt to get anything done on this issue. It is merely to let people know that, despite what people may be saying about DADT, it is not an issue that covers all within our community. Instead, it is an issue unique to lesbians and gays. The question now is, should there be a push for equal inclusion of transsexuals and intersexuals in the military, and would this be the right time to push it or would it be better to wait until the military is settled with regards to lesbians and gays? Under what circumstances should a transsexual or intersexual be allowed to join the military? While this is not a top priority issue, maybe it is time to start thinking about it.