December 21, 2020
Dismantling the transgender military ban: Open service once again is a promise on the horizon
Since the ban against transgender people serving in the military went into effect in April 2019, many highly trained servicemembers and those who have aspired to enlist have seen their dreams and their careers put in jeopardy. GLAD hopes to soon see a military that once again welcomes everyone who is qualified and willing to serve their country.
During President-Elect Biden’s campaign, he committed to reversing the transgender military ban. GLAD is already working with our partners to see that happen. Based on past practices, a President Biden can end the discriminatory ban by issuing an executive order, which we expect to see on day one of his presidency, if not quickly thereafter.
GLAD plaintiff Nic Talbott has been fighting against the ban since its announcement and exemplifies the high standards and commitment that the military has been missing out on since this damaging policy was put in place. “It’s a huge relief to know that we are now closer than ever to seeing it actually lifted,” Nic says. “Once the ban is gone, I can finally move forward with my life and have the opportunity to pursue my dream career, serving my country as an officer in the military. I look forward to being allowed to re-enroll in ROTC so that I can continue to train, keep up my fitness to serve, and become the best Army officer I can possibly be.”
While GLAD and our partner organizations are optimistic that a Biden-Harris administration will dismantle this harmful ban, we aren’t slowing down in the fight for justice or idly waiting. On October 30, GLAD filed a fourth case challenging the ban on behalf of a transgender woman who served 10 years in the Army and now is a member of the Michigan Army National Guard. Specialist Blaire McIntyre faces involuntary discharge after coming out as transgender. In addition to being a member of the National Guard, Blaire works as a uniformed civilian technician. Because her civilian job rests on her continued participation in the National Guard, she is at risk of losing both positions, a situation that would be devastating to Blaire and her family (she and her wife are raising two young children). Given her expertise, it would also be a tremendous loss to the National Guard.
The Palm Center just released a report authored by former military Surgeon Generals and scholars that details the harms that the ban has caused to military readiness. The study found that the policy compromises recruitment, retention, unit cohesion, medical care, and many other critical armed forces needs. “This new report proves that discharging qualified, capable, and battle-tested transgender servicemembers like me is a detriment to our military’s strength and unity,” Blaire explains. “My superiors expect the same of me as any other servicemember, and they give me the tough assignments because they know I can handle them. All I want is the opportunity to continue doing my job—a job that I do well and that helps me provide for my family.” Like so many other dedicated transgender servicemembers, Blaire faces losing the career she loves and her family’s livelihood because of a baseless and damaging policy with which military experts, and the majority of Americans, disagree.
GLAD is working in collaboration with the National Center for Lesbian Rights and other groups to quickly overturn the transgender military ban. As Jennifer L. Levi, GLAD’s Transgender Rights Project Director says, “Military leaders agree that the ban harms our military by depriving it of qualified, talented transgender recruits. It’s well past time we return to a policy that permits all those who have dreamed of serving their country, and those who have made it their calling in life, to do so.”