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TAVA responds to DoD Transgender Policy Study



Re: TAVA responds to DoD Transgender Policy Study

The announcement that the Pentagon may soon lift the ban on transgender service is the culmination of years of campaigning for the right of patriotic Americans to volunteer and serve their country with dignity and respect. It is our sincere desire to have the value of a service member judged not by their gender identity but rather by their individual performance.

According to the DoD announcement, the “DoD will create a working group to study over the next six months the policy and readiness implications of welcoming transgender persons to serve openly. Led by (Acting) Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness Brad Carson, and composed of military and civilian personnel representing all the military services and the Joint Staff, this working group will report to Deputy Secretary of Defense Bob Work. 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. Second, I am directing that decision authority in all administrative discharges for those diagnosed with gender dysphoria or who identify themselves as transgender be elevated to Under Secretary Carson, who will make determinations on all potential separations” (July 13, 2015, DoD).

Transgender American Veterans Association (TAVA) board member Major Kimberly Morris states, “It is heartening to see the DoD embracing a policy of equality and liberty for all service members, thus aligning policy with the sacred ideals we serve to defend.” While the announcement notes a period of study regarding how to integrate our proud patriots, there is little doubt that Department of Defense (DoD) has not neglected to consult with our allies, including Canada, Israel, and the UK regarding their decade and a half of experience in allowing their transgender citizens to serve openly in their armed forces. The period of study will allow the individual services to explore workable solutions for the administrative and logistical adjustments that may be required. Additionally, the time frame will allow for the services to develop the necessary training and inclusion protocols required for seamless transition to a post-ban military whose standards will remain at the high level of readiness required by our nation. 

A policy change as significant as this will have a profound positive impact on organizational readiness throughout the DoD, as an estimated 15,000 service members cast off years of suppressed solicitude and replace it with a renewed dedication and vigor that serving openly and honestly will bring. TAVA National President Major Evan Young (USA Ret.) summed up the sentiment by saying, “It is a welcome change to see actively serving transgender service members be able to focus on fighting for their country instead of fighting for their careers.” As the DoD moves forward with its inclusion policy TAVA will continue to provide unwavering support for transgender veterans past, present, and future.


Evan Young, TAVA President 616-427-5724;

Denny Meyer, TAVA Public Affairs, 718-849-5665;

Gene Silvestri

Private First Class (PFC) Gene Silvestri is a married, U.S. Army disabled transgender veteran, and he received an honorable medical discharge in 2003. Gene served with the 14th Military Police Brigade, 787th Battalion in Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri. Since being discharged, Gene has been active as an advocate in the local Sacramento Veteran community as well as the Sacramento LGBT community and area politics. He is a member of Disabled American Veterans (DAV) and American Veterans For Equal Rights (AVER). He also serves as board secretary with the Sacramento Valley Veterans (SVV), his local AVER chapter. He has a wide array of knowledge on VA claims processes as well other benefits information. In March 2014, Gene began serving with the American Military Partner Association (AMPA) as their Veterans Affairs Coordinator. In February 2015, Gene began serving as a board-member-at-large with the Transgender American Veterans Association (TAVA). Currently, Gene continues to be involved in community outreach and advocacy for all Veterans. Gene began his transition in 2011 and receives all of his health care at his local VA hospital.

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