10/2/2014 – LITTLE ROCK AIR FORCE BASE, Ark. — The Transgender American Veterans Association’s Secretary and retired Army Major, Evan Young, spoke on transgender military inclusion during the Second Annual Diversity Day, September 26, 2014, at Little Rock Air Force Base.
The diversity day included other guest speakers such as Dr. Terrance Roberts, one of the original Little Rock Nine members. “Diversity in the military is important, and we should accept each other equally without prejudice,” said Mr. Young. Many people assume that lifting the “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” ban allowed all LGBT service members to openly serve; however, that is far from the truth. Transgender troops are still forced in the closet and can be discharged if discovered despite their exemplary service record.
A recent PALM Center study with Dr. Joyce Elders, former US Surgeon General, and Rear Admiral Steinman, stated that there is no medical rationale for the banning transgender service members. In fact, eliminating the ban would allow commanders to take better care of their personnel. Even the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders 5th ed., (DSM–5) no longer classifies gender non-conformity as a mental illness.
Mr. Young said that there are currently 10 countries that allow open transgender military service, including: Australia, Belgium, Canada, the Czech Republic, Israel, the Netherlands, Spain, Sweden, Thailand, and the United Kingdom.
It is time the military recognize transgender service members and lift the ban. Secretary of Defense, Chuck Hagel, stated in May that he’s now ready to reconsider the ban on transgender service but has yet to initiate action towards this goal.
TAVA is a supporter of equal treatment of transgender military veterans and active duty service members. They also secure benefits for transgender service members, spouses and families, fight for continued improvement of transgender well-being through the VA system and Tricare, and advocate for transgender veteran’s employment.
Little Rock Air Force Base Diversity Day proved to be equal and fair, having groups represented from a broad spectrum, including every part of the LGBT acronym.