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A moment of silence for trans servicemembers

Commentary: Trans Progressive

Living in a town that’s often called a Navy town, the LGBT community will have much to celebrate on Sept. 20. That’s the day when lesbian, gay and bisexual servicemembers will officially be able to be out and proud while serving in the United States military. I know I’ll be celebrating this community victory for our LGB servicemembers.

But as one famous quote from Martin Luther King Jr. goes, “All progress is precarious, and the solution of one problem brings us face to face with another problem.” And so we, as a community, find ourselves face to face with new problems as a result of the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell (DADT).

One problem we’ll be face to face with in the wake of the repeal of DADT is already being discussed broadly in the LGBT community. And that is that same-sex spouses and domestic partners of lesbian, gay and many bisexual servicemembers will be legal strangers in the eyes of the Department of Defense due to the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). That means not having housing, health care benefits or family travel benefits; that means no Post Exchange or Commissary benefits.

And worse, many of the children of these couples that include a lesbian, gay or bisexual servicemember won’t be recognized as the child of the servicemember. This is again because of DOMA. The federal government will, no doubt, in many cases require the child of a union sanctioned by a state or the District of Colombia be adopted by the servicemember partner before the child can receive benefits.

But, that problem that we are face to face with as a community is one we’ve been discussing within the community. We, as a community, will work to solve that problem and at some point soon; we will see that problem solved because we are as a community, focusing on that problem.

But there is another problem that the LGBT community is now face to face with that we, as a community, are discussing less. And, that problem we’re now face to face with involves transgender servicemembers. The repeal of DADT was a victory for open service of LGB servicemembers, but that victory doesn’t mean T servicemembers also can serve openly.

Monica Helms, the president of the Transgender American Veterans Association (TAVA), has created a Facebook page entitled “A Moment of Silence for Trans Service Members on Sept. 20, 2011.‚To quote Monica Helms from the Web page:

“The Transgender American Veterans Association wants to first congratulate all the people who worked tirelessly on getting Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell repealed and helped the Administration and the Department of Defense to smoothly integrate LGB people into the services. Our members worked alongside LGB people to put this terrible law to rest and we are proud to see our work not go in vain.

“On this day of celebration, TAVA has one request for all of those who will be cheering and partying. We ask that everyone take a moment of silence to acknowledge that the fight is not over. A moment of silence for all of those trans people who will still face discharge when being outed. Take a moment to remember the trans people who gave their lives in silence to protect this country. TAVA stands in solidarity with our brothers and sisters in celebrating this historical day. All we ask is for them to stand in solidarity with the trans community in our struggle to end ALL discrimination in the U.S. military. The fight is not over. We live in a wondrous time for LGBT Americans. We are in a time when we can see our community’s long struggle for civil rights result in us being ever closer to the ordinary equality that we seek. But, all progress truly is precarious, and the solution of one of our community civil rights issues brings us face to face with further civil rights issues.

On Sept. 20 when we celebrate the very first day that lesbian, gay and bisexual servicemembers are able to lawfully serve openly in America’s military services, let us in the LGBT community hold a moment of silence for those transgender servicemembers who with repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell will still be required to serve in silence.

To quote Cesar Chavez, “We cannot seek achievement for ourselves and forget about progress and prosperity for our community ….Our ambitions must be broad enough to include the aspirations and needs of others, for their sakes and for our own.”

Transgender people are part of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community; transgender people are among the LGBT community’s own whose ambitions and aspirations should be remembered.



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Posted by LGBT Weekly on Sep 15, 2011. Filed under Trans Progressive. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

8 Comments for “A moment of silence for trans servicemembers”

  1. While there are no rational arguments against lesbian, gay, or bisexual people serving in the military, there are numerous valid arguments against those people who would be lumped together as transgender doing the same. Of course, the first thing that has to be recognized is that “transgender”, especially in a context like this, is a meaningless term. That said, most who would be lumped together under such a term have issues that would preclude them from being qualified to server in the military. For example, having service members who get off on dressing up in women’s clothes is simply not compatible with proper military discipline. Others, who would demand the right to live as women (or men) without fully transitioning would raise a huge number of issues, ranging from housing and restrooms to issues of mental fitness for service. Those in transition would raise similar questions.

    The ONLY circumstance where I could see anyone who would be labeled as transgender by someone like Sandeen is where they are a true transsexual, who has completed their transition (i.e. had full sex reassignment surgery…not just a castration like he is trying to pass off as a fraud), and be at least two years post-op with a successful history. Further, the person would be required to maintain privacy about their past…no “out, loud, and proud.” Yes, it would, in effect, be “don’t ask, don’t tell,” but such a concept is totally different in regards to true transsexuals who would, presumably, prefer such an approach anyway.

    The simple bottom line is, the purpose of the military is to provide defense, not to be a laboratory for bizarre social experiments by extremists like Sandeen.

    As to those who Sandeen describes as “serving in silence,” a better term would be “those who serve under false pretenses.” They had to have lied when they enlisted. Or, they have come to realize that the military is not going to cure them. Either way, they should own up, and accept discharge. They will be happier, and the military will not have them as a liability.

    • Give it a break, Howard. Opps, I mean “Jennifer” (not really). Unlike you, these people serve their country. The last thing they deserve is a delusional bottom feeder like you spewing nonsense about them.

      • ROTFL! The truth hurts doesn’t it? Clearly, you had nothing real to offer, so you resort to classic TG silliness. Thanks for playing, but really, you are just embarrassing yourself.

        You can try insulting me, but better have tried and failed. I am secure in my identity, and you are, well, you are simply parroting some fools who have all but given up.

        Now, if you have something real to offer, go for it. Otherwise, move along little boy….

        • Funny how you always resort to using “boy” and “mister” when attacking someone, considering that it is a well known fact that you’re just as much a “penis packer” as those you rail against, Howard. Not pretty enough to be a drag queen and too bloke to be a transexual, you sit behind your computer in the Tenderloin and blast everyone.

          Every member of the military, including those who are LBG or T, has my deepest gratitude for defending our country. These are people who go out and put their lives on the line, while those like Howard “Jennifer” Usher leech off the system and complain about everyone and everything.

          • Sorry sir, but you have been mislead. Not that it is any of your business, but I have been fully female for over five years. You should know better than to believe everything you read, especially likes posted by idiot trolls. Your insults are lame, and mildly amusing, but nothing new. I can just picture you sitting there, scratching your head and wondering why your devastating wit is falling short. It us very simple….I am secure in my identity.

            I mean really, are you so completely daft that you would have the military dealing with wannabe women demanding to be housed in female quarters? As I said, LGB will properly gain the right to serve tomorrow. Those who are transgender will, just as properly continue to be blocked. Of course, many, such as Sandeen and Helms, were just one of the boys until they suddenly, late in life, decided they wanted to be “women with penises.”

            Now, don’t get me wrong. I am not suggesting that frauds like them, and you, should ever give up your precious penis. It would be a terrible mistake if Mr. Sandeen had SRS. We already have too many kooks who went too far out there making trouble. But it would also be nice if you quit trying to convince everyone that “women have penises.”

          • Give it a break Howard.

          • ROTFL! In your dreams, Johnny.

  2. Why is a well known homeless man who hates transgendered people (i.e Howard Thomas Usher aka JustJennifer) allowed such a large voice on LGBT forums? Shouldn’t this guy be posting on the Westboro Baptist Church site or something?

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