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....
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.