Way back in the murky days of history, Congress and the President put in place a rule for those who serve in the military that was seen as a compromise at the time.
They called it "Don't ask them, and they can't tell us." Today we call it DADT.
It was a compromise because before that, it was: "Tell us and we kick you out, and if we find out we will kick you out.".
Pretty good compromise. If you were part of the majority.
History may be getting ready to repeat itself. And yet, a lot of folks will deny this. They speak about how the timing is right, how the iron is hot, and it is time, now, to strike.
You know what hot iron is used for? Branding. Marking as separate a particular group.
In this case, it's a group for which, even right now, the rule is still "Tell us and we kick you out, and if we find out we will kick you out."
It's been argued several times that DADT has nothing to with trans folk. And for about a third of the transsexual population, in particular, this is true. For the other two thirds, however, this isn't true, as they are lesbians and gay men and bisexuals.
And those lesbians, and gay men, and bisexuals will still be kicked out after DADT if they tell or are found out, and repealing DADT won't do a damn thing for them, or for the straight folks that are going to be kicked out as well.
Logically, then, the repeal of DADT will not end up allowing all LGB people to serve in the military. Just some of them.
What it will do, however, is create a situation where some LGB folks are branded as unfit, as not good enough to die for their country. Using the same hot iron that is spoken of now in such fervent excitement.
I want to point out that I am absolutely in favor of, and will officially sign on to, the blog swarm seeking to spark action to end DADT right now. To get the job done. Because it is a job that needs to be done, and I happen to sense that the only time this is going to possible is right now, although not for the reasons that most people are citing.
There is no question in my mind that it needs to end. As was famously said by someone often reviled in LGBT circles: "you don't need to be straight to shoot straight."
There's also the argument used by some of our more unhinged opponents: "let all the queers serve -- better they die than my kid". Can't you just feel the love?
There are organizations seeking to end DADT which are aware that all the talk and discussion is about cisLGB folks, and none about trans folks, and they are, apparently, working to change that, with a limited degree of success.
They have an uphill battle. In part because everyone is focusing on the *now*. Not on the ten years from now, not on the future, but on this moment, right now.
Which is, literally, a shortsighted thing to do.
Never before in the history of the United States has their been so many trans kids -- children between the ages of 10 and 18 -- who are living in their actual sex and gender, and who are moving forward in a life that is uncomplicated and free of the crap that folks who transition later in life (starting in their mid 20's) have to deal with. They don't have to deal with issues most of expect -- there's no coming out for them, or issues of social incongruence.
And when those kids grow up, and want to serve in the military -- following the people that they view as heroes or inspirations, or perhaps trying to get a better leg up on the tasks of going to college, getting a good job, and buying a house -- they will say to themselves "well, DADT was repealed in 2010, so I can do this!".
And go in and be told "No, you can't."
Even if they are gay or lesbian or bisexual.
Because the people who are pushing so hard for this want to make excuses for not working to end the exclusion of LGBT people, and let's not kid ourselves -- once they achieve their ends, they will just go away, and the money will drain out of the effort, and the stars of it will step away and fade away and the trans folk will still be sitting there, with brands on their bodies, pissed off even more, once again, byt the fact that the people who lead the orgs for these big things are afraid of trans people but not of bullets.
Unlike them, I don't have the ability to separate LGBT from each other, because I'm a trans activist, and for me to be active on behalf of all trans people, I really do have to fight for all of them -- including the LGB ones.
So I don't have the luxury of not looking forward into the years to come, and seeing that in the same stroke that erases DADT, the expolsion of trans people can be ended as well. It's easy to do.
"But it will make it harder!" They will scream. "Look at ENDA!" They will point.
Well, here's a blunt thing to say to that: we do not make it harder. All that other stuff is an excuse, and the reason it works is because of the stuff that transpeople talk about all the freaking time: other people's problems with us.
Bring us on board, and we will show you how to make it easy. You just have to hear and listen and understand us.
Simply add, to the bill, language which says the military can't discriminate against any of us, as well as repeal DADT. It doesn't mean a significant depletion of resources, doesn't suck the air out of the room, and it doesn't change the priorities or strategy, and it lets us keep fighting, so that the brand strikes those who oppose us.
Instead of those who are part of us.
So that when those "cute little kids" on TV grow up, they can serve, instead of cannot serve.