Alex Blaze

Support the G, L, B, and T troops

Filed By Alex Blaze | March 19, 2009 4:30 PM | comments

Filed in: The Movement, Transgender & Intersex
Tags: brandon friedman, Don't Ask Don't Tell, gays in the military, military, transgender soldier

Brandon Friedman, vice chair of VoteVets.org, wrote a post on the HuffPo opposing DADT entitled "No, Gay Soldiers Won't Be Allowed to Cross-dress While on Duty." Normally I'd leave this sort of thing alone, but our allies apparently need a little educating.

He discusses "Dan," a gay West Point grad who has a degree in Arabic, and how normal Dan is:

Now, notice that Dan is not wearing a dress. He's wearing the Army's standard ACU. Also, notice that Dan is not wearing makeup, eyeliner, or dangly earrings. He's just wearing the normal Kevlar helmet and protective eyewear that you typically see infantrymen wear in Iraq. Observe that Dan also looks as though he's barking orders, something infantry officers sometimes have to do in dangerous situations. What he's not doing, however, is hitting on the other male soldiers in his unit. And he's not spying on his fellow male soldiers in the shower.

Hmmm... I don't know if comparing "wearing a dress" to sexual harassment is the right way to go about bringing sexual and gender equality to the military, but ok....

He continues:

All the arguments we're seeing consist of vague fears about "social experimentation," discomfort with the "shower situation," and mild terror over the thought of cross-dressing soldiers.

But soldiers like Lieutenant Dan Choi dispel all the hysteria. And that's a good thing. Because, in the end, gay soldiers are identical to straight soldiers: They're professional, they're competent, and they take care of their troops.

While there's plenty of scare-mongering from right-wingers about repealing DADT, it doesn't make much sense to affirm that there is even a reason to be scared there. Especially the thought of "cross-dressing soldiers."

Many transgender people in the military are being discriminated against because of DADT, enough that even the group of West Point grads that came together to oppose the policy said they wanted to educate military leaders on the "need to accept and honor the sacrifices of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender troops.

While most gay soldiers aren't transgender, that doesn't mean that we affirm the idea that there's something inherently wrong with being a transgender soldier. Military uniforms are pretty much unisex and dangly earrings and high-heals wouldn't be a problem for transwomen in the military - it's called dressing sensibly for the job.

In the rush to present gays as normal as everyone else in every way, lets not forget the fact that transgender people face many of the same forms of discrimination that we do, and that repeatedly saying how it's "a good thing" that gay men aren't trans doesn't do much to help them out.

I'm sure Friedman's heart is in the right place on this issue, and getting rid of DADT would be a positive step forward for LGB and T soldiers.

Buuuuuuut... we have to keep our vision set on the bigger battle here. Because even if DADT gets repealed, the military will need to be educated on inclusion when it comes to LGB and T soldiers. And that education shouldn't be undermined with what we're saying now.


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You can bet that TAVA members will be making a comment on this at HuffPost once the word gets out. Thanks, Alex.

Because even if DADT gets repealed, the military will need to be educated on inclusion when it comes to LGB and T soldiers.

Wait, you meant, "Because even if DADT gets repealed, the military still needs to be as well".

Right?

butbutbutbut

Bashing trans women is the National Pastime and lifeblood of Gay Rights!

/sarcasm

Thanks for keeping this from being a total loss. But it will be a cold day in Hell before I trust a homosexual to treat me and mine with even the most basic of respect.

I really wish the homosexual rights crowd would learn what words like 'equality' mean. Thanks again, Alex, for doing your part.

We don't face "many" of the same forms.

We face *all* of them. And then three times more on top of that.

And not the least of which is because we get it from those closest.

I decided my comment will come in the form of an article. It will have more impact.

Alex, I agree with everything you said.

But that Friedman piece still tickled the funny bone as it smacked of Marlin Perkins calming observing the antics some strange and wondrous creature.

Still, your point is very well taken.

Michelle Kelley | March 20, 2009 10:05 AM

Apparently, Friedman subscribes to that widely-held opinion of the general public that transwomen are even MORE weird than gays. Or, at least, that we are fair game for insulting, derogatory comments. I'm only out to a very few people - those I can really trust. People like Friedman are the reason why.

He is far from alone in the non trans homosexual rights community.

Very far.

Non trans homosexuals feel no compunction about expressing their hate openly about us with distressing regularity.

This is one aspect of that life that I wish would go back into the closet, right along with queer racism and of course, sexism.

And oh yeah, I want a pony too.

If you go through and actually read the comments to his blog, Friedman actually states why he talked about it in this way. It was in response to the radio clip he also has posted...

Well, I went to the article, I listened to the clip, and while I understand the *intent*, the execution still sucked royally and actually reinforces the actual stereotype, merely deflecting it from gay people.

It was, to be as direct as I can and without much courtesy to illustrate how offensive it is, one of the most asinine things he could ever have done.

Its not too dissimilar to saying "that's so gay".

Hatred of trans women is so gay!

Wouldn't anyone wearing a dress in a combat situation man, woman, or otherwise be a bad idea?

This from your local anti-military, anti-soldier, trans woman.

Yes, it is a bad idea, but not for aesthetic reasons. It's not good for functional reasons.

As a gay man, who's father is a Full Bird Colonel, I feel that having transgender soldiers dressing in high heel women's uniforms goes TOO TOO FAR. I think that the acceptance of gays and lesbians in the military would be quite a feat, but its simply pushing the envelope to allow cross dressing in the Military. NO OTHER Country that allows gays and lesbians to serve in their Military, like Canada would still NOT allow a man to wear a woman's military uniform

IF and thats a big IF, we get to the point where homosexuals are allowed to serve in the military, what we DO NOT NEED ARE THESE ULTRA ACTIVISTS WANTING MORE AND MORE. This is a PRIME EXAMPLe of what the religious right would love to hear about to put even MORE fears into the minds of politicians!!! Come on, ENOUGH IS ENOUGH!!!!!!!!!

I take it, then, that you're opposed to same-sex marriage for similar reasons?

He is wrong about Canada, which allows trans women to serve.

And Thailand, too. As well as a few other countries.
http://theangels.co.uk/2009/03/transgender-vets-a-hidden-population/

Chris, put up or shut up, and explain why you didn't have the balls to serve like your father, and why he doesn't feel the need to spout off like you do here.

Maybe Daddy can sit you on his knee and tell you all about what a Class A and a BDU *really* look like.

When I was young, dumb, and trans on the streets of San Antonio, soldiers showed me nothing but respect. How dare you paint these men and women as bigots.
I wouldn't be here today if it weren't for some of them.

Alex, nice snap. I wonder if Daddy ever did a production of South Pacific back in the day. It might explain where he got his warped ass idea of what shoes go with a BDU.

Six countries allow trans people to serve openly in the military. In fact, Canada let trans people serve BEFORE gays and lesbians. If these countries can figure it out, then the only reason American wouldn't allow it is bigotry.

(Damn, these silly arguements are what I am easily refuting in the article I'm currently writing.)

Angela Brightfeather | March 20, 2009 2:33 PM

It is kind of beyond my ability to reason why someone who claims to be a leader in his own right, would be able to be led into such an argument about CD's in the military by the likes of the people he was facing. To me it seems like capitulation in the face of the enemy and deserting your own troops.

On the other hand, it is certaily not out of the ordinary to have such a gay man trash the image of Transgender veterans. I am surprised that though that this was coming from another veteran. Usually many gay men are much more discreet about it though, and remind others what a "drag" they are (Trans peeps) to the GLB causes and that if not presentable enough for heterosexuals, they certainly should be blacklisted from talking to, speaking for, representing, or even being recognized by gay and lesbian, straight looking and acting Americans.

Of course, it was pretty normal for me as a Drill Sargeant for seven years at Ft. Dix, to get up at three in the morning, pull on my pantyhose, break the starch on my bassiere before stuffing in my silicon falsies, take my hair out of curlers and style it under my campaign hat, put on my tight skirt and tee top and slip into my 5" heels before throwing the garbage cans down the hall six days of the week and forming my company out in front of the barracks for a nice two mile run and a quick 12 reps of the daily dozen, before leading them on a 12 mile march out on a sandy trail to the firing range and then back again in the evening, where I would get ready to go out clubbing that night. I was tough enough back then to take this "shavetail" Friedman on and stuff a pugil stick up his butt and laugh when he was left crying for his Mommy.

How's that for a Cross Dressing, Transgender Veteran's answer for a bunch of West Point wimps. Everyone knows that the sargeants run the Army and win the wars anyway. That's who should have have been taking on those right wing idiots in the first place.

Thanks Alex for pointing out what ought to be obvious.

I'll give Brandon the benefit of the doubt as far as intentions, since he apparently was responding to someone's comment -- but epic fail for how he handled things.

Especially in light of the scaremongering across the board about "men in dresses" by the right wing-nuts. As others have said, it's in effect not countering those arguments as the spurious, hateful and usually irrational ones that they are, and instead just saying in effect, "you're wrong because we're not like those people."

lacy panties | March 21, 2009 8:19 PM

You haven't said anything about why we should support any troops, Gay, Lesbian, Bi, Transgender or Straight. Is it a good idea to support people when what they are doing is bad? Unless you support what the troops are doing--like occupying foreign countries, incareating alleged "enemy combatants" and so on-- why would you support the people who are doing it?

I take it history is not one of your strong subjects. You might want to Google a little skirmish called "The Vietnam War," and how the troops were treated when they came back, AND how it scarred some of them psychologically.

Just to let you know where I'm coming from, I served 8 years in the Navy during Vietnam, so I saw some of that first hand. And, I have a son who did 4 years in the Marines and did two tours in Iraq. I'll be damned if I would tolerate anyone treating my son like I was treated, no matter how crappy the war was he was ORDERED to fight in. He didn't decide to occupy Iraq, and he didn't killed anyone. If you want to focus your rage toward anyone, then focus it on the Village Idiot of Crawford, Texas. He's the one.

lacy panties | March 22, 2009 11:29 AM

MonicaHelms, I'm not suggesting that soldiers or veterans should be harrassed, mistreated or blamed for the war. I was in high school for most of the Vietnam conflict. I opposed the war, but I never treated Vietnam veterans--like my father--as the focus for my rage. I'm not going to blame individuals for the behavior of the larger group. But it seems what I'm being asked to do here is not to treat individual soldiers decently, but to "support the troops" as a group.

Beyond that, it seems I'm being asked to specifically support the decisions of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender individuals who choose to serve, but I don't support their choice.

You've certainly made the case that troops shouldn't be scapegoated for the foreign policy decisions of politicians, but you haven't advanced any reason why troops should be supported. That's what I'm asking.

Ah. Thanks for the clarification. You are wondering why we should support the decision of LGBT people who want to serve? I hope that's the question. If so, then it's simple. We support each other when we decide to come out, or to begin transitioning. This is yet another decision in the long line of them that people make. Many decisions our friend make would be the last thing we would want for ourselves, but it's the right one for them. Basicly, we are supporting their right to make that decision. I hope that helps.

lacy panties | March 24, 2009 6:27 PM

MonicaHelms, unless you are really saying we should support LGBT people in their decisions regardless of what they are, you haven't really said anything. Do I need to support Log Cabin Republicans in their choice to support a party that's profoundly homophobic? If a transman wanted to join the Ku Klux Klan and found out they discriminate and won't let him in, would you encourage the LGBT community to rally round and support his choice? What if the army my friend wants to join is the Janjaweed militia--although it's not right for me, should I support him on the basis that it's the right one for him? I don't think it's as simple as you suggest, merely blindly supporting LGBT people in whatever they want to do.