HRC Blog

Rep. Susan Davis Voices Support for Transgender Military Service

Rep. Susan Davis (D-CA) was recently asked if she supports open military service for transgender individuals.  She replied: “Transgender individuals should not be denied the opportunity to serve in our nation’s military solely on the basis of their gender identity.”

Rep. Davis’s opinion on this issue matters.  She is the ranking member on the House Armed Services Military Personnel Subcommittee, and in 2008, when she was chair of the subcommittee, convened the first Congressional hearing on the Don’t Ask Don’t Tell policy.  A strong ally of the LGBT community, she has received a 100% score from HRC.

Transgender individuals cannot openly serve in the military because Department of Defense (DOD) regulations prohibit their service and requires separation from the military if discovered.  Unlike the repeal of the policy known as “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” which prevented gays, lesbians, and bisexuals from serving, the rules and regulations prohibiting transgender military service are, as a newly released Palm Center report states, “under the authority and jurisdiction of the President and Secretary of Defense.”  According to the report, an estimated 15,500 transgender personnel serve in the military. 

Last May, however, Secretary Chuck Hagel signaled that he was open to re-assessing DOD’s policy because “every qualified American who wants to serve our country should have an opportunity if they fit the qualifications and can do it.”  The Palm Center report concludes that “formulating and implementing inclusive policy is administratively feasible and neither excessively complex nor burdensome.”  The panel of experts included three retired generals. 

The report, moreover, outlines what we already know: there is no feasible reason to keep transgender individuals who are fit to serve from doing so.  That’s why HRC continues to work hard to ensure that the United States joins the ranks of the 18 other countries that allow transgender military service.

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