Navy considers transgender personnel

On Tuesday I shared news about the US Army making it more difficult to discharge transgender personnel. Back in December I wrote about Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James supporting transgender military service.

So what's up with the Navy?

Well, here you go.

By the way, the commanding officer of the Marines is on record saying he's totally opposed to transgender people. Actually that was the last CO. Don't know where the new one is on the issue.
Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy Mike Stevens was asked, in an interview with Navy Times, if he thought transgender recruits who have finished transition should be allowed to serve.

So, I was a recruiter at one time. The Navy sets the guidelines for [who] we can allow to join the Navy. So if they're physically, mentally and morally qualified, anybody who meets those criteria has an opportunity to serve their country.


Stevens did not state whether or not he supported lifting the current ban on transgender personnel. What he did say was that if the ban was lifted, it would be his responsibility not to judge people, but to ensure that they have a successful career.

My philosophy has always been this, that as a leader, I have a duty and responsibility to provide an opportunity where every sailor can be successful — and that we're going to do that while treating one another with dignity and respect.

So, that's it, I don't pass judgment on any sailor and I don't hold anything against sailors but what I do as a leader is set conditions and provide opportunity for them to be successful, plain and simple. As the master chief petty officer of the Navy, I see sailors.


At a March 6 all-hands call with Vice Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Michelle Howard in Naples, Italy, a sailor asked the admiral about having to serve alongside transgender troops. Howard said that logistical issues (medical care and deployability) might complicate the issue.

I think the real issue will be — for the services — we are required to maintain worldwide deployability. The issue isn't merely, in the case of some sailors, where that is how they view themselves. The issue is, can they maintain worldwide deployability?


Howard pointed out that in some countries would not accept transgender troops.

In some countries, the process of becoming transgender, would make them a criminal in that country. And there are some pretty horrific sentences.


Howard then rattled off the old standby reasons of psychological treatment, hormone therapy, and surgery.

The other question is, how proactive is the person in that process? Just like any medical condition where someone needs a lot of medical help because they are working through the process. Then that might [impact] their ability to be worldwide deployable.


It is clear that Howard and Stevens are speaking about two disjunct sets of people.

In the end Howard said the decision would have to come down from above.

I think we will probably end up starting this conversation underneath the secretary of defense, but much like the other conversations, it will probably not unfold quickly. It will probably take us some time to work our way through it.


MCPON said the issue is not more or less easy than any issue he has worked through before.

My take is that we need to get together as leaders and we need to have the conversation, and we need to figure out how to best proceed so we can provide all of our sailors with the opportunities I just talked about.

So whatever comes to us, we will do our very best to work through that in a comprehensive and appropriate way, and darn it, we will treat everybody that has blood running through their veins with dignity and respect.


Speaking about MCPON,

Once again, another senior leader in our nation’s Armed Forces has voiced their support for open and honest service by transgender service members – and it’s encouraging. But we need more than words. We need action. We need the Secretary of Defense to order a comprehensive review of all of the outdated regulations that force the estimated 15,500 transgender service members in the Armed Forces to serve in silence. Until we get comprehensive action, our transgender service members and their families needlessly remain at risk.

--Ashley Broadway-Mack, president of the American Military Partner Association

 photo Eleazar_zpsusrqu92k.jpgJake Eleazar received a letter last Friday informing him that he was medically disqualified from serving in the Kentucky National Guard. The following Monday, after the Army announced a change in its discharge policy, Jake learned that the Army was withdrawing the letter he received. He was informed that his case will be reviewed at a later date.

I hope that I am the last person to ever get a letter like that.

It was definitely crazy. It had almost been back to normal — I was going to drill for about a year, and nobody really messed with me. And all of a sudden I got this [letter]. It came out of nowhere. I hadn’t been warned at all.

It was crushing. Because I knew that folks had been trying to work on something. And I kept hoping, kept hoping, kept hoping that it would happen. And I said, well, I guess it just wasn’t going to be quick enough for me.


Jake is thought to be the first test case of the Army's amended policy.




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As always...

Robyn's picture

...I should note my own biases. I am a former Spec 5 correctional specialist who was stationed at the USDB in Ft. Leavenworth during the Vietnam Era. I don't know why any transperson would wish to be in the military and wouldn't suggest it as a career path, but I believe we should have that option in a free and open society.

Here's a recent essay on the issue.

Much as the disenfranchisement of African Americans diminished their role as active citizens, transgender individuals have been diminished by their being barred from the military. And if the specific branches of the military refuse to change their socially broken laws, then it is Obama’s job to work with Carter and the Defense Department to set a national precedent extinguishing this archaic law.


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