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TAVA Responds to Secretary of Defense Hagel

11 May 2014- (www.transveteran.org) On Sunday morning May 11th, Secretary of Defense Hagel responded to questions regarding Transgender service in our armed forces, on This Week With George Stephenopolis.

Dayna Walker, Acting President of Transgender American Veterans Association, responded today to Secretary of Defense Hagel’s interview with Martha Raddatz by pointing out that Transgender individuals have, and are currently, serving in the United States military, albeit in the shadows.
“The Transgender American Veterans Association represents thousands of gender variant individuals that have served honorably and with distinction in the United States military,” Walker stated. “This is without regard to environment or medical treatment. Although we openly represent those that are no longer serving in active and reserve components, these individuals still exist and are out there on the frontlines every day. They are only barred from openly serving and thus cannot be vocal about their contributions to our nation’s defense.”

Secretary Hagel stated he was “open” to review of the current policy and “that every qualified American who wants to serve our country should be able to do that, if they want to if they fit the qualifications.” Hagel went on to state this is an area that has not been defined enough.
The fact that transgender individuals are serving alongside their active duty counterparts as contractors and DOD civilians, negates Hagel’s assertion that those operating in “austere conditions where we put our men and women don’t always provide that opportunity” for proper medical treatment.

“Transgender individuals have served throughout Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom in many capacities,” Walker stated. “Landon Wilson is the most recent example of an individual that has recently been brought to the forefront of the movement that was serving in their target gender and doing so in such a manner as to be lauded by his leadership.”

Another stellar example is Army Captain Sage Fox. “Sage has served this nation in both her assigned gender and target gender and has done so successfully,” Walker explained. “These examples are merely a sampling of those that are waiting in the wings for an opportunity to prove they can do the job while living in their target gender.”

Denny Meyer, Media Director for TAVA stated this, “Transgender American Veterans Association (TAVA) believes that this issue has dragged on for far too long is this country, while many of our allied nations have allowed Transgender individuals to serve, along with Lesbian, Gay, and bisexual volunteers, starting in the mid 1990’s. Those nations include Israel, Australia, the United Kingdom, and our neighbor Canada. Just as studies have proven that there were no negative effects from allowing lesbian, gay, and bisexual volunteers to serve, the same has been true for Transgender service in our allied countries.”

While TAVA’s membership is noted to include military Veterans from as far back as the Korean conflict, an estimated 15,000 Transgender service members currently serve in the United States military and there are estimated to be nearly ten times as many military Veterans.

“The Palm Center’s study, led by former U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Joycelyn Elders, stated there is no compelling medical reason to ban Trans military service,” Walker points out. “This argument keeps coming up-that the medical reason is the major concern- yet we can deploy others without this being a major issue and can cite case after case where this has been a non-factor. It’s time our military quits dancing around this topic and acknowledges the elephant in the room,” according to Walker. “Secretary Hagel’s acknowledgement of this is an important first step and we fervently advocate for the Department of Defense to address this sooner rather than later.”

For more information please visit, www.transveteran.org .
Media inquiries please contact Denny Meyer at media@transveteran.org or call 718-849-5665 or Dayna Walker 813-504-6037, vp@transveteran.org

Evan Young

Evan Young is originally from Little Rock, Ark. He graduated basic training in 1989, transitioned from a sergeant to lieutenant in 1998, and rose to the rank of Major before retiring. In 1998, Evan graduated from Northwestern State University of Louisiana with a B.A. in English. From there, he continued his studies while on Active Duty and graduated from Nova Southeastern University in Florida with a M.S. in Management Information Systems. He earned his public affairs credentials in 2004 and broadcasting management credentials in 2007. He served in the Reserves, Guard, and Active Duty. He was the Hawaii National Guard as a Public Affairs officer and a Media Officer at NORAD and US NORTHCOM. Evan began transition in 2011. He retired from the Army as a Major in 2013. Since then he began his own web development company, EF Young, has written for OutServe magazine as a blogger, is the former president of the Arkansas Transgender Equality Coalition, and currently serves as the national president of the Transgender American Veterans Association. Evan currently lives in Dover, AR. with his two children.

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