War and Peace

Pentagon follows the lead of its branches

I'm sure you have heard the news by now. Several people posted about it yesterday or this morning.

Let's face it. I've been scooped.

After there were several instances of leaks and near leaks yesterday sharing that the Pentagon's ban on transgender personnel was not going to survive the week, Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter came out with it.

Carter issued two directives. The first one established a Pentagon working group to "study over the next six months the policy and readiness implications of welcoming transgender persons to serve openly."

At my direction, the working group will start with the presumption that transgender persons can serve openly without adverse impact on military effectiveness and readiness, unless and except where objective, practical impediments are identified.

The second directive stated that all decisions to dismiss troops with gender dysphoria would come under the purview of acting Secretary of Defense for personnel and readiness Brad Carson.

This second directive elevates further the level of action needed to dismiss transgender personnel. As background, here's the Army doing more or less the same thing: Army discharge policy: Changing while remaining the same.

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Another shoe drops

The Navy and Marines have followed the lead of the Army and the Air Force and made it more difficult to discharge transgender people for being transgender.

Navy Secretary Ray Mabus signed a memorandum last Wednesday stating, "Effective immediately, separations initiated under the provisions of the reference for service members with a diagnosis or history of gender dysphoria, who identify themselves as transgender, or who have taken steps to externalize the condition, must be forwarded to the assistant secretary of the Navy (manpower and reserve affairs) for decision."

The memo was sent to the chief of naval operations and the commandant of the Marine Corps.

Sgt. Shane Ortega, a three-time Iraq and Afghanistan veteran and openly transgender soldier at Wheeler Army Airfield, said he was "elated" with the news because it gives transgender troops worried about discharge "the opportunity to breathe."

These types of historic actions are the ones that parallel the repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell.

--Ortega

The military policy changes mean transgender personnel seeking medical treatment won't be automatically separated from service.

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And Navy makes three?

The Navy is considering whether to follow the path laid down by the Army and Air Force by raising the level of authority required to discharge a sailor based on gender identity.

The Navy is looking to elevate the administrative separation authority for transgendered personnel to ensure that this important issue receives the right level of review. Any proposed changes would not affect the level of discharge authority for other instances of administrative separation.

--Lt. Cmdr Nicole Schwegman, Navy spokesperson

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Air Force cracks open the door to transgender service

 photo Logan-Ireland_zpsltgdzuny.jpgOn Thursday the Air Force announced a policy change which will make it more difficult to for transgender troops to be discharged. The AF's new policy is modeled on the one adopted by the Army in March.

In the past airmen diagnosed with gender dysphoria or who identified as transgender were generally immediately discharged, based upon decisions made by a doctor or unit commander. The new policy requires review of such decisions by officials at Air Force headquarters.

A psychiatrist or psychologist must support the recommendation for discharge for gender dysphoria. A commander must also determine that the condition interferes with troops' performance of their duty.

Though the Air Force policy regarding involuntary separation of gender dysphoric Airmen has not changed, the elevation of decision authority to the Director, Air Force Review Boards Agency, ensures the ability to consistently apply the existing policy.

--Daniel Sitterly, Air Force personnel official

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Squared Away

 photo Oretga1_zpsfha0ar7e.jpgShane Ortega has served three combat tours...two in Iraq and one in Afghanistan...two as a marine and one in the Army...two as a woman and one as a man.

Sgt. Ortega is stationed at Wheeler Army Air Field in Hawaii. "Normally" he would be a helicopter crew chief. But he is temporarily (he hopes) grounded...and has been since last summer. So he's been doing human resources work instead.

Sgt. Ortega has been grounded since a medical test disclosed elevated testosterone levels. But he has a bigger concern. While all his government-issued ID recognize him as male, the Military's Defense Enrollment Eligibility Reporting System (DEERS) still lists him as female.

Sgt. Ortega’s Command has requested clear guidance from the DoD as to whether this means Shane can stay in the military or not.

--ACLU

Meanwhile Sgt. Ortega concentrates on being perfect.

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Congressional Research Service on being transgender in the military

The Congressional Research Service issued a report on April 28 which stated that the Department of Defense should seriously consider following the lead of the Justice Department, which at the end of 2014 announced that transgender federal employees would be added to the list of people protected against discrimination by the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

The report was unearthed by the Federation of American Scientists and made available at the blog, Secrecy News

The document is entitled CRS Insights, and subtitled What are the Department of Defense (DOD) Policies on Transgender Service?. It was written by Kristy N. Kamarck, who is described as an analyst in military manpower.

On December 18, 2014, then-Attorney General Eric Holder announced that the Department of Justice would take the position in litigation that the protection of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 extends to claims of discrimination based on an individual's gender identity, including transgender status. While Title VII does not apply to military personnel, for some, this change in the Administration's position has raised questions about U.S. law and DOD policies as they relate to transgender individuals.

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The Ghost of Chamberlain

Of course the proximate issue is whether the prospective deal with Iran is 'another Munich'.

Now I'll leave aside some minor contemporary details like the fact that as a signatory of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty Iran is perfectly within its rights to develop nuclear power for peaceful purposes in any way they see fit, and that Ayatollah Khameini "has also issued a fatwa saying the production, stockpiling and use of nuclear weapons is forbidden under Islam.", and that Pakistan (Sunni) is a non-participant that openly has nuclear weapons and Israel (another non-participant) almost certainly has them but will not admit it, or that Saudi Arabia (participant) has stated that they will purchase them if they deem it desirable.

Let us think instead about Munich.

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Army discharge policy: Changing while remaining the same

This past Friday the US Army suspended the direct discharge of soldiers on account of being transgender. Any such cases must henceforth be reviewed by the Assistant Secretary of the Army.

Today’s action by the Army helps over 6,000 transgender soldiers serving in silence.
While transgender service members welcome this step, they recognize it is only a stopgap measure aimed at making a failing policy fail less. What they and their commanders need is a comprehensive, Department-level policy review.

--Allyson Robinson, a former Army captain and SPARTA Director of Policy

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