The Tale of Two Feds | Transgender and The Department of Defense

You might be thinking that hearts and minds have transformed. Society might have evolved on gender identity, but not the military’s old guard.

By L.S. Kove, May 15, 2014.

Screen Shot 2014-05-15 at 1.44.05 PMThe Department of Defense (DoD) is different than the rest of the federal government. Not only is it large enough to swallow the rest whole, but its rules on military personnel and equal opportunity fall outside of the Office of Personnel Management and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) respectively.

Often rules pertaining to federal personnel; the military is exempted by either or both Congress and or the President. The UCMJ is a foundation for its own military legal system.

Militaries have operated this way, based on the needs of military leaders during times of war. This made sense when wars were different and lacked today’s current technologies.

Now unmanned weapons are on the front lines. Yet the military is still managing its personnel as if all are foot soldiers on the battlefront. This provides military officers with tighter control of those within their purview.

You ask why this is problematic. It’s because “Absolute power corrupts absolutely.”

Everywhere else in the government women and LGBT have much better protection from harassment, but not in the military. Proven often in the Congressional hearings about sexual harassment the military does not tend to police itself very well.

DoD can fire an exemplary service member simply for being a Transgender person. This is due to an obsolete inaccurate medical policy. DADT repeal did not benefit our Transgender service members. There are approximately 15,450 transgender personnel who serve currently in the active, guard and reserve components.

Recently the Navy removed from service Landon Wilson. Landon was doing an excellent job. The way he was discovered is that someone noticed the gender in his military records changed. For that reason he was fired.

Recently Dr. Joycelyn Elders, MD, former US Surgeon General, in a report explained that there is not a medical reason to deny a Transgender person the right to serve. This means the military should NOT have fired Landon.

If Landon worked in any other part of the government he could easily fight back and win. A complaint then would fall under EEOC. Instead as a sailor he can file complaint, but it comes under the military.

The military can and most likely will ignore the EEOC decisions that the rest of the federal government must abide by. EEOC would consider the Navy’s actions to be biased based on sex with the sub category of gender stereotyping. EEOC sits silently on the side lines due to the military exemption.

The military will claim if challenged that he is not fit for duty. Being a Transgender person is seen by the military as a form of mental instability.

You might be thinking that hearts and minds have transformed. Society might have evolved on gender identity, but not the military’s old guard.

The only real legal chance that Landon has is by not using the military process. Instead he should replicate the LCR lawsuit that killed DADT in federal court with the addition of medical testimony from Dr. Elders. He would need attorneys that were either working Pro Bono or funded by a group within the community.

Another option would be since this is only a military policy for either of the following officials to reinstate him: President, Secretary of Defense, or Secretary of the Navy. Most likely that is not going to happen, because politicians tend to be very intimidated by seasoned military leaders.

In fact some of the seasoned military leaders behind the scenes tend to be more adept at politics than politicians. This was obvious during the creation and passage of DADT.

The military is a hyper machismo culture. Internal minorities that run counter to the machismo ideology become oppressed. Until such treatment is proven to be unconstitutional. Gender identity diversity inclusion is the final frontier to be achieved in the military.

Transgender service members receive the worse prejudice in the military. They are often silent about being victims of harassment. Some have been raped.

Presently the Pentagon’s diversity leadership bragged about being ahead, because they added sexual orientation. Not mentioning that the rest of the federal government already had included both sexual orientation and gender identity.

DoD intentionally left out gender identity, because they intend to treat Transgender service members as inferior and want the ability to remove them from service.

Their new and updated diversity policies will also leave out gender identity. Transgender service members inside the military will not have any recourse and will be forced to live a silent lie.

What can this community do? Let the President, Secretary of Defense, and the Secretary of the Navy know that Landon Wilson should be fully reinstated and be able to serve as the man that he is.

Please encourage the President to sign an executive order for a military inclusive ENDA.

NOTE:
This article is based on Ms. Kove’s opine as the Executive Director of the 501C3 LGBT nonprofit DOD FED GLOBE and it is not intended to reflect the views of her employer the Department of Defense.


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