Antonia D'orsay

Branding Irons and Striking Now

Filed By Antonia D'orsay | February 18, 2010 4:00 PM | comments

Filed in: Politics
Tags: blog swarm, Don't Ask Don't Tell, ENDA, gender variant, kids, LGBT movement, OpenLeft, progressive institutions, progressive movement, trans, transgender, transsexual

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.


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Equality Giving's proposal for DADT repeal specifically includes eliminating discrimination against all LGBT people in the military, in order to protect trans people: http://equalitygiving.org/Dont-Ask-Dont-Tell. Their omnibus equality bill also contains the necessary language: http://www.equalitygiving.org/files/Blueprint-for-LGBT-Equality/Equality%20%20Religious%20Freedom%20Act%20-%20March%2021%202009.pdf. (See new Sec. 656 on p. 22.) They are one of the few organizations acknowledging the need to protect trans people in the military, not just LGBs.

Correction:

"if we find out we will kick you out" is still the mandate just as it was pre-DADT.

No correction -- I never said that wasn't the case.

You wrote [emphasis mine]:

"...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'."

If you did not mean "THAT" to refer to DADT in the sentence that immediately followed your reference to DADT, and, therefore, that sentence to mean,

"It was a compromise because BEFORE DADT, it was: 'Tell us and we kick you out, and if we find out we will kick you out'," then they must have taught grammar and sentence structure very differently where you went to school.

Actually, it has never been "Don't Ask, Don't Tell".

It has only ever been "Don't Tell, Don't Tell if Asked".

Non-one has been been kicked out for asking and plenty have asked.

Much more accurate, and *that* is a correction. Thank you.

Angela Brightfeather | February 18, 2010 11:04 PM

I think you may be way understated on this one and DADT.

Right now in NC where I live in Raleigh, I am getting emails from people who are asking me if I can help direct them to therapists in the Fayetteville, NC area who can deal with "special" Trans problems. The kind that involve special consideration because these Trans people first, are still serving in the military on active duty at Ft. Bragg, the largest military training center in the US, where Bush and Obama have often traveled to get kudos and votes....and second, they suffer from PTSD severly and are afraid to approach the VA or any military medical personnel because they feel that their being Trans is so much a part of their PTSD that to treat one you have to admit to the other and that is the end of their career.

This is such a bad situation that it far surpasses the simple fact that you may or may not serve your country. That is a simple problem. It invovles a situation where the person is literally trapped and there is no light at the end of the tunnel, so it brings up the ultimate and only feasible solution to them, taking their own life. Just try and put yourself in their situation.

They need to be treated, but that means they need "To tell". But if they do tell, then they are out of a career and since they are young and in their early 20's, they were never trained in anythng they could use in civilian life, outside of being hired by Blackwater, and if they try to transition, which might help their situation, they won't get hired anywhere after they have lost the only thing they knew how to do.

So they are dealing with just about everything that any Trans person would believe is an accurate imitation of hell on earth. Add the fact that they have guns and know how to use them very affectiviely, and it's just a matter of time to find out if they take themselves out, or they decide to take a few others with them.

This Antonia, is the ultimate reality of DADT, PTSD & ENDA. It's not some make beleive scenario that people can sit and sip tea and argue about or philosopize about until the cows come home. It is the reason why we need to tell people who say that Trans people are not affected by DADT, that they don't know what they are talking about, they have been proven that they are wrong and they should stop being such idiots because it is costing those young Trans kids their lives.

So, it looks like some of those lovely young Trans kids you were talking about growing up some day, already have as far as I'm concerned. They joined the service so they could get an education after being thrown out of their red neck families for being Trans, joined the service to pay for their education, but no one told them about PTSD and killing people, and no jobs even if they are educated because they are Trans because of no ENDA.

That future you imagined is right now and every aspect of what we have been fighting for is involved. Our total dislike of war and killing. Being trapped inside not one disciminatory system, but two of them, while they are trapped in the worng gender. Having no place to go and being labeled as doubly mentally ill by DSM for being Trans and because of PTSD, but not being able to talk to anyone about it within 50 miles from where their living without taking huge risks.

If you would really like to see where hell is, come down to NC some time and meet some of our Transgender service members serving their country right now. While most people like Dan Choi or the Joint Chiefs, that clearly see and speak to the inequity about DADT regarding GLB people, don't even mention that it exists or affects and includes Transgender soldiers. We can visit Ft. Bragg and then go right to Camp LeJeune after that and then swing around to Pope AFB. We could have a dsupport group meeting in each place, but there might be someone outside writing down lisence plate numbers if you meet on base.

"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."

Did I miss something?

Antonia, have you some sort of leaked document that the repeal of DADTDP (don't forget that "don't pursue" part... which, of course, has been ignored from minute one of the DADTDP policy enactment) that states, categorically, that the homosexually oriented will not be allowed to serve?

Don't you have enough real issues with which you have to contend in your political race? In a couple of your last postings, you've simply created "controversy" out of thin air, Antonia. When the wrongness of your statement(s) concerning DSM-IV was revealed, you insisted you were correct.

You weren't.

Now, you're simply assuming DADTDP is going to be replaced with an outright ban on the homosexually oriented in the Armed Forces... despite the head(s) of the branches of the forces supporting allowing homosexually oriented persons to serve openly.

And all because you get a different mental image from the cliche "strike while the iron is hot" than does the overwhelming majority of English-speaking persons?

Wow.

That's all. Just...

Wow.

Nice strawman, Eric.

Try reading it again.

And this time, try not to forget that trans people can be gay, and lesbian, and straight, and bisexual, and asexual.

At the same time they can be trans.

And then remember, if you would, that even though they are gay, or lesbian, or bisexual, they will still be denied or kicked out because they are trans.

Also, I don't get a different mental image, Eric. Interesting that you would leap to that unfounded conclusion without basis or merit.

Next time, read and comprehend first.

I think it's time you came to an understanding about yourself, Toni... and that understanding is you are not nearly as intelligent, nor subtle, as you believe yourself to be.

Before you tell me I should read for comprehension, perhaps you might try reading your posting, linearly.

Here... let's go.

Paragraph 1: You attempt to label 20 years ago, when the machinations of Senator Sam Nunn of Georgia led to the creation of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell, Don't Pursue" as some "murky" pre-Colonial era. That's the entire point of your first paragraph.

'Graphs 2 - 4, inclusive: You attempt to build on your first paragraph, further delineating the boundaries of 10 U.S.C. § 654(b), yet not really tying these three paragraphs into the first paragraph... nor, really, cohesively tying anything into the title.

But, then, come 'graphs 5 through 8, inclusive, quoted here:

"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.

Look at what you say, Toni: "You know what a hot iron is used for? Branding."

Yet, you state you don't get a different mental image than most of the rest of the English speaking world to the cliche "strike while the iron is hot."

Obviously, you do. Or at least, you forced yourself to see a different mental image.

Toni, if you're not even going to re-read what you, yourself, have written... then you really shouldn't respond to criticisms of what you've written.

Yes, I know that trans people are not allowed to serve. You know what? I don't care.

You know why?

Trans people can be disqualified for the same reason I was disqualified from service in the Navy... not because I was gay (hey, I was in my 20s, in Ohio, and a closet case), but because I was medically disqualified due to scoliosis and aortic stenosis.

There were anticipated medical costs associated with my service, if my enlistment had been accepted, that were higher than that of my fellow recruits.

There are, I'm certain, higher medical costs associated with a trans person being allowed to serve, if that enlistment would be accepted, than that of other recruits.

It's a legitimate disqualification that is used across the board to deny service to persons with ongoing, costly, medical needs.

Antonia, in my criticizing a few of your last "columns," it is not because I disrespect you, as a person, but because you're just immediately reaching for - or creating - the "shock factor" when that shock factor to which you grasp is so easily disproven.

"Homosexuality is still in the DSM!!!!"

No, it's not. Just the opposite, in fact... the inability to face the reality of being homosexual is a mental disorder, not homosexuality, itself.

"Homosexuals will be branded when DADT is repealed!!! Strike while the branding iron is hot!!!"

You have legitimate points to make, Toni. You do yourself a disservice when resorting to National Enquirer actions to make those points.

In one of our exchanges earlier this week, you stated I was responding from "cis privilege," which I denied... all the while you admitted to writing (and responding to my criticism of your writing) with "privilege."

Toni, I can easily disprove having any "cis privilege."

The first two qualifications for a "cis" label are: having the body I expect to have when I look in the mirror and having the body society expects me to have.

I don't.

The vertebrae of my spine - those that formed, I should say - are extremely narrow. They are only about 1/4th the width of a normal human's vertebrae. A number of them at the base of my spine are fused; they not only never separated, they never fully, individually, formed. going up the spine, afther a "v"-turn to the right, the next group formed, but never quite separated. The next group of 7 formed and separated, but at only about 1/4 the width of a "normal" persons' vertebrae. Because of this, I do not have a neck. My head sits on my shoulders; my chin juts out just above my chest. If I go without shaving for four days, and I take my shirt off, it literally looks as if my chest hair is growing up over my face.

Even though I'm 50 years old, there are times, when I look in the mirror, when I'm shocked at what I see... as my mental image of me doesn't see that there's not a neck there, and so, I expect to see one.

And when I'm out in public, I know from the reactions, comments, and shoulder gestures of persons in public, that I definitely don't have the body society expects me to have.

So take your "you're writing from cis privilege" accusations and shove 'em, okay?

I'm writing from a viewpoint of: What you're saying is easily disproven, and makes very little sense.

First off, sorry Bil, but I'm overdue and we all know it.

Ok, here goes...

You are the one who decided I was labeling it some sort of pre-colonial era. Your use of that point is a strawman, derived from your intentionally readng more into what was there than is actually there.

You make the assumption I'm delineating on the USC, when, in fact, I'm pointing out that because DADT does not include gay folk who are trans, and that erasing it will not, in fact, cover all gay folk.

Again it is not obvious that I do, nor that I force myself. Because, Eric, the fact of the matter is that I apparently have a wider understanding of multiple purposes for hot iron and multiple mental images and, unlike a journalist I'm aware of, I actually have the ability to select one that's most appropriate for the piece I happen to be writing. That in addition to hot branding (which is a more appropos visual for someone raised in the southwest), or basic smithing (blacksmithing, specifically, since, as you will know, being a journalist, there are multiple forms of smith), that is can also apply to rivets (and thusly skyscrapers), and that metaphorically, the limits of it are even greater. None of which is apparent in yu rfirst comment, and, again, is apparent in your second, so the fault you are actually accusing me of is more likely one of your own being projected on me.

And that's all above and beyond the fact that you have, literally, absolutely no conception of how smart or subtle I am because, oddly enough, you have absolutely no idea how I think of myself. You don't know if I think of myself as smart or stupid, and, in that simple ad hominem opening, you broke multiple journalistic rules that you so often like to say have some bearing.

So let's see, Eric, that's, um, hmmm...

4 things you've been wrong about, all because you failed comprehension to start with.

Let's keep going, shall we?

Oh, look -- you wander into various things that all essentially label trans folk as disoreered and appear to actually be supportive of that particular outlook and view, despite your claims previously, by noting that it is a legitimate disqualification.

Interesting. Even more so, since the only bearing on any of it is that I'm noting that by inserting into the repeal of DADT language to correct that particular problem DADT repeal affects all LGBT folks, including those gay folks who haven't grown up enough to enlist.

So now we've established that you find trans folk to be disordered, that you find them to not be both gay and trans at the same time, and that you also like to read more into what is written than is actually there, which is what you did when you commented on the End of Disorder.

And do again here, saying that I somehow was wrng when, in fact, I was not.

This is followed up by a woe is me fallacy in which you completely ignore the fundametnal aspect sof cis privilege (because you do not understand it yet, and you got it entirely wrong). So, once again, mr. "I don't have cis privilege but I don't know what it is to really be able to understand if I have it or not", check your privilege. Big time.

And that is about as polite a shove as I can give my accusations in that area in the appropriate location that I can manage at this moment.

Now, if you had wanted to go with the woe is me fallacy that's somewhat inherent in the particular post, I might have gone along with that, as I was aware of it when I wrote it.

It wasn't, however, what you decided to do, instead relying on what you decided to read into what I wrote. And so now, as a result, I'm giving you a taste of why it was it was felt better to coopt me than to just let me roam around freely in the comments section.

And I'm not angry yet, but I'm absolutely close to it. Fail to figure privilege out one more time, and I will be.

I'm at least aware of my privilege and hold it in check, you see.

And next time you want to read something into what I write, do yourself a favor and ask questions first, instead of leaping to conclusions.

Because while I am not all that smart and I am not all that subtle, I am a damn sight more capable in both those areas than you appear to be.

Seriously, Eric -- do yourself a favor and stay away from Trans topics until you get a better idea of what trans people are about.

Toni,

You are completely off base.

I'm well aware of problems associated with trans people. I'm also aware that there are gay and lesbian trans persons.

In fact, my personal doctor in San Jose, CA, was Dr. Joy Shaffer, of the Seahorse Medical Clinic; both she and her spouse were lesbian and trans, both had completely transitioned.

So, now that THAT is dismissed, in your response you completely overlooked the main thrust of my statement concerning DADTDP and your assertion that revocation of that policy would not allow for trans persons to serve: Just as any other recruit, a trans person can be medically disqualified, simply due to the expected higher medical costs a trans person is likely to incur than an average recruit.

And don't worry, Antonia, if there's "something (I) don't understand," I always either ask for clarification, or go searching for the answer myself. Willful ignorance is, in my eyes, an intolerable sin; it's the sin of the "Leviticus Crowd."

If you're this intolerant concerning critiques of your writing(s) - completely unwilling to even re-examine your own use of language, and inability to structure some pretty simple paragraphs into a cohesive whole - I wonder how you're going to be on the stump in Maricopa County.

If, on the campaign trail, you respond publicly as you did, here, then all I can say is:

Wow.

That's all. Just...

Wow.

And yet, rather than substantially reply to the points I raised earlier -- chiefly that you were wrong, and that you do not understand the things you were talking about, and that rather than making actual inferences about the article itself you chose instead to draw inferences out of thin air regarding me, as you do again here -- you instead post this.

Eric, if you are going to get me, you had better try a hell of a lot harder.

Eric, you say:

"There are, I'm certain, higher medical costs associated with a trans person being allowed to serve, if that enlistment would be accepted, than that of other recruits."

This is a generalization that just isn't true. Many trans people choose not to have surgery, and without surgery, the cost of care for trans people is quite low, and consists of going to the doctor once or twice a year (which you probably should be doing anyway), and taking some very very cheap pills. There is a misperception that it costs a lot for trans health care and it doesn't.

I'm not taking sides in the rest of the discussion but I wanted to point out this fallacy because I've seen it used time and again as a roadblock for denying health care to trans people.

Vivian,

I'm not making any statement concerning the actual cost of medications; I'm only saying the US military can medically disqualify someone who is going to have a higher cost. My youngest sister, who attempted to join the military, was medically disqualified because, during her induction physical - she had actually joined the Air Force, and been given the general acceptance physical - it was shown she might, at some future point, need surgery on the muscles of her calf in her right leg.

Ten years later, she did need that surgery.

In the all-volunteer armed forces of the United States, everything is averaged... the recruits they accept all have a general medical cost of "X" dollars per year; if it seems that average cost is going to be exceeded for any reason, that can be grounds for a medical disqualification.

Just a couple of points, although you should keep in mind that I shouldn't really have any say at all on how the US military decides to organise itself. There are too many national borders between us.

First, regarding your position that being trans should be sufficient grounds for a medical discharge. Here it's interesting to note that there are military forces around the world that already allow trans people. In fact, the relevant medical regulations where I live (and still hold a commission in the reserves, although the overall military organisation is very different from the US) state explicitly that an F64 diagnosis does not in itself bar someone from military service. There's even a career officer in Sweden who has been blogging about her transition for the past few years.

Yes, some of the surgical treatments can be pretty costly, but not all need them; also, there are a number of other health plans that don't cover those treatments either. While this is an important issue it is separate from the question of whether trans people in general can be considered fit for military duty, so let's not get into issues like health coverage. Discharging people for being trans may be convenient for bigots and perhaps even budget-makers, but it's hard to see how it could be considered medically justified.

As for cis privilege, your interpretation of it is rather novel. It is not simply a matter of 'having the body [you] expect to have when [you] look in the mirror and having the body society expects [you] to have', although the latter part comes close. The real point is being secure in the knowledge that you are rightfully male. Despite your physical issues, it is – or so I assume, as you did not mention this aspect – extremely unlikely for others to question your right to present yourself as a man. Even if they do, you have the documentation to prove beyond doubt that you are indeed one.

Of course, in some situations certain people would likely lump you, as a gay man, together with trans women (as Toni wrote a while ago in her post about situational memberships :) ) and consider you less than fully a 'man'. In those situations you would lose your privilege to some extent. This is because cis privilege is not always distinguishable from straight privilege; but the issue here was specifically the cis/trans power hierarchy, not the straight/queer one.

Ana, you state:

"First, regarding your position that being trans should be sufficient grounds for a medical discharge. Here it's interesting to note that there are military forces around the world that already allow trans people. In fact, the relevant medical regulations where I live (and still hold a commission in the reserves, although the overall military organisation is very different from the US) state explicitly that an F64 diagnosis does not in itself bar someone from military service. There's even a career officer in Sweden who has been blogging about her transition for the past few years."

I'm not arguing for an automatic disqualification for any trans person; I think in an all-volunteer armed forces, anyone should be allowed to volunteer and that continuation of service should be determined on an individual basis, based on that individual service record.

I was responding to Toni's stance: That gay, lesbian and bi trans persons would still be automatically barred from service... and then tying that into being disqualified because they were gay or lesbian. I was saying, alternatively, that a trans person could be disqualified for medical reasons.

You further state:

"As for cis privilege, your interpretation of it is rather novel. It is not simply a matter of 'having the body [you] expect to have when [you] look in the mirror and having the body society expects [you] to have', although the latter part comes close. The real point is being secure in the knowledge that you are rightfully male. Despite your physical issues, it is – or so I assume, as you did not mention this aspect – extremely unlikely for others to question your right to present yourself as a man. Even if they do, you have the documentation to prove beyond doubt that you are indeed one."

I was referencing an earlier "comment" discussion Toni and I had in which she accused me of writing from "cis privilege," while also, rather haughtily, admitting to writing from "trans privilege," herself.

Researching "cis privilege," the prevalent site - and the site to which a majority of other sits referred - had a "checklist" of 25 questions that began (paraphrasing): "If you can answer 'yes' to all these questions..."

The first two questions on that checklist were the two I referenced in the commentary I've made in this thread, and I repeated those questions as stated on that site.

Since I can answer "no" to both those questions, and the checklist stated I would be exhibiting "cis privilege" if I could answer 'yes' to ALL the questions on that checklist, then by the checklist's own, stated, rules, I was not exhibiting "cis privilege."

There was another question in that checklist to which I could respond "no." It was a question concerning clothing - and the fit of that clothing... if a person could wear, and feel comfortable wearing, off-the-rack clothing (again, this is a paraphrase).

No, I can't. The collar of a man's shirt is, even polo shirts, high in the back. The fold of a collar sits, roughly, an inch or so above my hairline and rests on the back of my skull. T-shirts are not appropriate for all occasions; one can find very few collarless men's dress shirts.

The problem with that checklist, and with the statements Toni has made with which I take umbrage (and, which, Toni apparently now sees as some personal attack on her, unfortunately, rather than on those statements) and, even, the statement I made concerning the situation of Perry Watkins in the comments of this posting of Toni's - is that such general, sweeping statements are not, and cannot, be true; there is no "all or nothing" generalization that can be true, simply due to its "all or nothing" nature.

Straight and asexual trans people have been harassed and kicked out under DADT. Also, SLDN and TAVA have proof and stories of trans people who began their transition before getting out . . . and were not thrown out. A Lt Commander in the Navy was called back to active duty during the first Gulf War AFTER she transitioned and served at SAC headquarters. Trans people have already served openly in the military, but the military won't admit it.

That's what I've always found unacceptable in the whole "it'll kill unit morale!" argument that's been used to continue DADTDP... in times of peace, the Armed Forces have the time to investigate alleged violations of DADTDP; in times of war, the policy (as well as the previous policy of "homosexuality is incompatible with military service") was simply ignored.

The military, itself, has acknowledged the homosexually oriented serviceperson serves their country with the same pride and verve as does the heterosexually oriented.

Then, in peacetime, the investigations and discharges begin again in ernest.

Just this week, the highly publicized case of Lt. Dan Choi again made headlines because the military, in violation of its own policy has kept Choi in the service; his discharge for violation of "Don't Ask" hasn't been stopped; it's merely been suspended, as they have need of his linguistic skills.

If DADTDP is no repealed, as soon as they have a heterosexual linguist as skilled as Choi... he's gone. The suspension of his discharge will be lifted, and he'll be out of there because, once again, he's suddenly bad for the "morale" and unit cohesion.

His discharge hasn't been "suspended." It's just waiting on his (supportive) commander to finish filing the paperwork - but the commander refused to file the paperwork to get it started. Right now they're at a standstill while they try to decide what's next. After all, punishing the straight commander for fighting to keep one of his best trained soldiers isn't a battle the army/national guard wants to pick right now - especially with Obama saying the policy needs to end.

You're correct, Bil. I used an oversimplification of the situation.

Choi's commanding officer refused to file the paperwork; that commanding officer's commanding officer has not issued a direct order to his underling to process the paperwork, resulting in a "suspension" of Choi's discharge.

If, and when, Choi is immediately replaceable, want to place a wager on how quickly Choi's paperwork is filed, regardless of the status of DADT? While the military is, as you suggested, somewhat susceptible to public perception, outside of Perry Watkins, it has always carried through any and all discharges that have been publicly revealed to be a discharge for homosexuality.

Perhaps, Henry, you only meant to make some point about the violations of the policy against being asked and the fact that those violations are often not punished. But because so much confusion persists about exactly what the policies are, with respect, I must emphasize that, regardless of one's response, being asked IS a violation UNLESS it follows one's commander receiving "credible information" that one is gay, after which he/she MAY ask if it is true. However, under Article 31, one is NOT required to answer.

The exact language has varied slightly over the years, but the intent has remained constant:

"DoD Directive 1332.40; E8.4.3. Commanders or appointed inquiry officials shall not ask, and members shall not be required to reveal, whether a member is a heterosexual, a homosexual, or a bisexual. However, upon receipt of credible information of, homosexual conduct
commanders or appointed inquiry officials may
ask members if they engaged in such conduct. But the member shall first be advised
of the DoD policy on homosexual conduct (and rights under 10 U.S.C 831, reference
(b), if applicable). Should the member choose not to discuss the matter further, the
commander should consider other available information. Nothing in this provision
precludes questioning a member about any information provided by the member in
the course of the fact-finding inquiry or any related proceeding, nor does it provide
the member with any basis for challenging the validity of any proceeding or the use
of any, evidence, including a statement by the member, in any proceeding."

Thank you.

Sorry, Bil and Eric, but there continue to be misunderstandings of the history/status of Dan Choi's case.

1. I don't know where the idea came that Dan's commander "refused" or "It's just waiting on his (supportive) commander to finish filing the paperwork."

On April 23, 2009, the Army sent a letter to Dan informing him that, because he had admitted on Rachel Maddow's show on March 19, 2009, that he was gay, he had the choice of resigning and receiving an honorable discharge or facing an administrative hearing to determine whether or not he should be discharged under DADT.

He refused to resign, and at 8 a.m. on June 30, 2009, he appeared at that hearing before a panel of two Army officers and two National Guard officers at an armory at Hancock Air Base in Syracuse, New York, because it is the headquarters of the 27th Brigade Combat Team, which oversees Dan's National Guard unit, the 1st Battalion, 69th Infantry. At the end of the day they informed him they would be recommending his discharge based on his admission.

"The recommendation now goes to Lt. Gen. Thomas Miller of the First Army Division, and Gen. Craig McKinley, the chief of the National Guard Bureau, who will make the final decision." - "The Syracuse Post-Standard."

While Dan told Maddow on 7-9-09 that he did participate in drill two weeks after his first appearance,

"...since April [he] had not been in drills with his unit as he grew increasingly busy lobbying for an end to the don’t ask, don’t tell law. He instead went to substitute drills, as the Guard allows. In many cases, he said, a substitute drill consisted of administrative work at the 69th Regiment’s armory at Lexington Avenue and 26th Street in Manhattan. ...

Lieutenant Choi’s commander, identified by the New York Guard as Lt. Col. John Andonie, declined to be interviewed. But a spokesman for the New York Guard confirmed that Lieutenant Choi had participated in the [February] drill and would remain [a member of the National Guard] until he was formally discharged — when, and if, that happens.

'We do not have an issue with it', said the spokesman, Lt. Col. Paul Fanning, speaking of Lieutenant Choi’s announcement that he was gay. 'It’s a deeply personal thing. To us a soldier is a soldier is a soldier'.”
- "NY Times," 2-11-10.

"...getting discharged under DADT [can be] a byzantine process.... The New York National Guard’s spokesman, Lt.Col. Richard Goldenburg, confirmed that Choi has always remained on the rolls of his unit. 'His violation of the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy is being run through the channels of the Department of the Army, which has not yet made a final determination on the revocation of his commission', Goldenburg said. Until the Army's chiefs decide Choi's fate, Goldenburg said the state militia - which remains under the command of New York Gov. David Paterson unless Washington requests its soldiers for national service - will continue to let Choi serve. 'The New York National Guard doesn’t have an issue with this', Goldenburg said of Choi's serving status." - "Newsweek," 2-9-10

2. @ Eric, re "outside of Perry Watkins, it has always carried through any and all discharges that have been publicly revealed to be a discharge for homosexuality."

Respectfully, your statement would almost be correct had you not mentioned Perry Watkins. Keith Meinhold, Justin Elzie, and Grethe Cammermeyer were all allowed to continue their service after outing themselves for the same reason that Perry Watkins was given the option [but chose not to accept]: court orders. Subsequent to outing himself, Tracy-Thorne Begland was also returned to the Navy after discharge under the pre-DADT policy by court order, but, then, discharged again under DADT and the Supreme Court refused to hear his appeal. After outing herself, Zoe Dunning continued in the Navy Reserves after an administrative hearing decided not to out her because no evidence was produced that she had participated in homosexual conduct.

This was an anamoly that government attorneys ordered never to be allowed again because the policy states that knowledge that a servicemember "is" gay presumes that he/she has/is/will engage in homosexual conduct and, unless he she/proves the negative, he/she is to be discharged.

Michael,

If I understand your posting, then, Lt. Choi is in some sort of limbo concerning his status? He's presently serving, with no cut in pay/rank, continuing his duties... but if the brass at the Pentagon decide to assume the responsibilities concerning prosecution of his sexual orientation admission, he faces discharge proceedings at any time?

Michael, you state:

Respectfully, your statement would almost be correct had you not mentioned Perry Watkins. Keith Meinhold, Justin Elzie, and Grethe Cammermeyer were all allowed to continue their service after outing themselves...

You're correct, of course; I had forgotten all about Grethe. I'm unfamiliar with the case of Justin Elzie, so I am guilty of what I get angry about... a blanket statement of "truth" that is anything but.

But, concerning Meinhold:

Back in the day, I interviewed Keith for the San Jose Our Paper/Your Paper at the apartment of some mutual friends in Santa Clara, CA. In that interview, he stated his discharge had just been formalized within the previous week.

This was, roughly, about the same time my cardiac system began infringing upon my life.

I never did a follow up (quite frankly, I had more pressing personal matters to which I had to attend). Are you saying his discharge was never formalized? I know in a previous telephone conversation, he had alluded to his being allowed to, essentially, resign from the service without being discharged... is that what, ultimately, happened?

"LeonardMatlovich.com," huh?

That brings up another question I'd like to ask you. A long time ago (15 to 20 years, now, I think), I interviewed Cliff Anchor. It was one interview that had a spectacular setting... we met for over an hour, from 3:30 to right about 5:00 PM, at a restaurant in the Castro... on October 31.

He had, at that time, made the news by returning all the medals he'd received from his own service in one of the Guards, protesting the then-policy of "homosexuality is incompatible with military service." At the time, revealing his background, he'd claimed to be the ex-lover of (at separate times) both Leonard Matlovich and Tom Dooley. Neither Randy (Shilts) or I could ever get independent verification of that status - though Randy eventually ran with it in "Conduct Unbecoming." I simply alluded to Anchor's claims of being the ex-lover of other military heroes who had been discharged for being gay.

Anchor was a remarkable, funny man who, toward the end of our interview, couldn't keep his eyes off the window, watching Halloween Party revelers beginning to congregate.

At one point, nearly tearfully, he recounted a conversation, allegedly with Matlovich, in which Matlovich nearly begged Anchor to "out" himself; instead Anchor chose to remain closeted. His then-current actions of turning in his medals, and staging one-man protests at recruiting offices all over the Bay Area were, he said, his way of trying to atone for his earlier inaction.

So - was Anchor an ex-lover of Matlovich's, or was he creating a fantasy history for himself?

I've heard through the grapevine that Cliff has since passed away. I'm assuming, if he was Matlovich's ex-lover, someone at leonardmatlovich.com might be able to confirm that?

Thanks, Eric.

Keith Meinhold, like Perry Watkins, was discharged and, like Watkins, sued. In Watkins case, the Supreme Court chose not to hear the government's appeal of lower court rulings that he be reinstated [on terms of "fairness"]. As indicated, he was tired of it all by then, and chose not to go back in, receiving some kind of financial settlement.

Keith and Tracy outed themselves on ABC on the same April day in 1992 [tho on different programs]. Unlike with Tracy who, as indicated, was discharged twice, Clinton's DOJ decided for some reason I'm not certain was ever publicly stated not to appeal a 2nd court order maintaining Keith's reinstatement [in November 1992 by another court before Clinton took office]. He retired in 1996 with the Navy Achievement Medal.

Elzie outed himself in 1993, was discharged, sued, and reinstated by a Federal District Court judge pending legal resolution. Four years later he and the Marines reached an agreement and he retired with a $30,000 bonus.

FOUR YEARS serving as an openly gay MARINE! All of these cases of reinstatement of out gays, just as Leonard continuing on active duty for months as Victor Fehrebach continues to do and Dan Choi does, albeit not technically on "active duty," PROVE the NONSENSE of claims about "disruption." That the Pentagon is STILL allowed to even persist in the assumption is for mainstream media, et al., to agree to intellectual dishonesty and charade.

For a beautiful summary of these years of struggle, see Tracy's speech at:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wIPDr5DLGHU

As for the claims of Cliff Anchor; now you're going to get me in trouble. :- )

I cannot speak to his claim after Tom Dooley died that he and Dooley had been lovers.

But his claim that he and Leonard were is totally false. They were friends when Anchor was going by the name Mike Erickson, and Leonard often appeared on a local radio show that Erickson/Anchor hosted at the time.

I have hestitated to say it because he did do some good things, and many good hearted people were fooled, including Randy Shilts who couldn't resist the dual-celebrity-lovers claim that Erickson/Anchor made after Leonard, too, was no longer alive to dispute it. Some have reacted angrily when I have corrected the myth, forgetting that there have been many good people make false claims. Remember the guy who'd worked high in Clinton's administration whose body was disinterred from Arlington after it was revealed his claims of having been in the military were false?

Cliff died in 2000. RIP.

Michael,

Thank you.

I had suspected fantasy when I interviewed Anchor. There were too many "little things" that didn't coincide with what I had already known about Matlovich, including Anchor's timeline of when they were "a couple." If Anchor had been telling the truth, I would have been expected to believe the two of them were living at Anchor's home in Oakland, at the same time Matlovich was fighting the local government in Guernville over his pizza joint.

Randy, having the benefit of a publishing house and Errors/Omissions insurance went with Cliff's claim(s). I, the freelancer, chose the more hesitant route.

I should note: Randy also didn't really believe Cliff concerning either Matlovich or Dooley, but thought the story was irresistible. I guess I was always just a bit more cynical.

But, as I said, thank you for finally giving me closure on Anchor. I'd always hated I could never get a definitive acknowledgment/refutation of Anchor's claims; it had always been an unanswered question for me - and I hate unanswered questions.

Something else I can remember bothering me about the man was his absolute refusal to discuss any reason behind his name change from "Mike Erickson" to "Cliff Anchor." I can remember thinking: "Why's this go so open about all these other aspects of his life, but so completely shut down over this? Doesn't he know a legal name change is a matter of public record?" It just set little alarm bells going.

Damn. Michael, now you've got me reminiscent for the Bay Area but, especially, you've got me missing Randy. Though not much older than myself, he's someone for whom I'd give most anything I owned for the chance to have one last five-minute conversation.

"Limbo" is a good way of putting it. No change in his status, save for being allowed sometimes to skip his National Guard "weekend warrior" drills and do "make up" [and I don't mean at Macy's cosmetic counter].

I'm convinced, because of the high profile nature of their cases...along with the "on the brink of repeal" nature of DADT that some imagine...someone high up has said, "Leave Choi and Victor Fehrenbach alone for now." If Dan's National Guard unit is, in fact, "activated" and he's sent to Afghanistan with them, the charade of the policy will blow up even more in the Pentagon's faces.

Fehrenbach remains on full-time "active duty" in Idaho while his discharge is still pending confirmation by the Secretary of the Air Force. In Leonard's case that took barely a month. Fehrenbach is still waiting some 10 months after his administrative hearing recommended his discharge.

In fact, Fehrenbach has said he believes that us Air Force, after notifying him in September of 2008 that they would institute discharge proceedings against him, purposely delayed the actual hearing until April of 2009 because they thought Fehrenbach might be saved by Obama stopping disharges upon being sworn in but couldn't justify waiting any longer when that didn't happen.

Running out the proverbial clock is important for Fehrenbach because if he stays on active duty for roughly another year he will hit his 20-yr. mark and be eligible for a $46,000 A YEAR retirement pension. BEFORE then, nada. It's a unique case in MANY ways. Here's the brief timeline and a link to the bizarro story behind his outing that I bet will one day be the seeds for a plot of a "Law & Order" episode.

MAY 2008: Fehrenbach has consensual sex off base with a guy he'd met online, not knowing the guy has tried to get the Air Force to make him a special investigator of an alleged ring of gay airmen purposely infecting others with AIDS [I kid you not]. USAF, said, "No, thanks!"

Guy calls police in middle of night claiming he is a special agent for the Air Force and that VF raped him.

Police interrogate VF who admitted to sex, but convinces them it was consensual.

Guy makes same allegation to USAF, apparently threatening to go public if they don't discharge VF. [I remain convinced the Air Force would have "looked the other way" were it not for this.]

SEPT. 2008: After months of investigation, USAF finds accepts that sex was consensual [and decides not to charge VF with violating the UCMJ ban on "sodomy"] and notifies Fehrenbach they'll move to discharge or he can resign. After considering resigning he changes his mind.

APRIL 2009: Hearing finally begins on the 30th anniversary of his Air Force vet father's death. They recommend discharge.

MAY 2009: VF tells his large, unsuspecting, military-heritage family that he's gay, and asks permission to go public to fight policy. They all agree.

He outs himself to the world [including some 4000 airmen on his Idaho base] on Rachel Maddow's show.

JUNE 2009: VF approaches Obama at White House Stonewall gathering and asks for his help. Obama says he knows who he is, they're going to get rid of the policy, but it will take some time because it's a "generational thing."

FEB 2010: Though removed from "flight status," VF still going to work every day as an assistant director of operations for the 366th Operations Support Squadron at Mountain Home Air Force Base in Idaho.

http://www.idahostatesman.com/newsupdates/story/874410.html

Maybe its time we ask our European allies how this whole thing is working out.The Royal Army has LGB and T soldiers serving in it.I wounder what the Brits are doing right and they are a much more smaller and tight knight force than the US Army is.

DADT isn't a trans issue. In this case the issue for trans folk would be that there is still a great deal of gender inequality in the military.

Simply add, to the bill, language which says the military can't discriminate against any of us, as well as repeal DADT.

It's just not that simple. It would end up being very specific and narrow with compromises you won't like (because the GOP will certainly try to amend it to make it specific and narrow) but will be stuck with for 3 decades. Because women still aren't allowed to serve all the places men can--special forces or submarines--you'll end up with a law barring trans folks from serving in certain areas.

I would caution against making the same mistake made with DADT by passing a law through congress addressing the issue if it can be addressed by executive order or changing military regulations regarding gender.

DADT did not have to be US law in the first place. Congress forced it to stop Clinton from lifting the ban outright by executive order.

It's possible I've gotten something factually wrong above. The passage of DADT was a long time ago, and it wasn't what we wanted...obviously. But congress is really at fault for making it what it is because they were blocking Clinton. That's what I remember.

Angela Brightfeather | February 21, 2010 7:33 PM

"DADT isn't a trans issue."

It sure is and I am ashamed to admit to you that against my best judgement and gut feelings about something that happened four years ago, I did not follow up and appeal the process of eliminating Trans people from DADT.

Here is the real story, just so that you know.

As the VP and co-founder of the Transgender American Veterans Association (TAVA) I had the opportunity four years ago, to talk with the major national organization dealing with the repeal of DADT, in a phone conversation between myself and four other major players.

I questioned why DADT did not include Trans people in the legislaton that was being drawn up to repeal it and being sponsored by two of the national organizations in that conversation. Another organization on that call was the major representive for Transgender issues in DC.

At the time, we knew that word we had gotten through our membership about people who had been discharged under DADT for being Transgender, was without any doubt true and factual. But it was through direct verbal discussions. Therefore we had no actual proof of it in writing. I questioned the whole legislation as being exclusionary and the fact that it needed to be changed immediately and made inclusive. Right away, I had three others on that conference call telling me that they could not change the legislation because it had already been drawn up and submitted and cast in concrete. All of a sudden, I had flashbacks of dealing with ENDA a few yerars ago. The scenario and the arguments were all the same. I was very annoyed and objected, but it seemed no use and I made the mistake of backing of. I confess that it is one of the few times that I have ever backed down from a fight when it comes to Trans inclusion and I truly regret it now, because had I pushed harder it might have changed things at that time. The fact that I had no public way of spreading the word such as the blogs at that time and the fact that I did not have any proof at that time in black and white, played into that decision to back of.

So, I got of the phone, waited a few nights and called Monica Helms the President of TAVA and told her that we should conduct a survey of our community and it's veterans to establish factual proof about abuses in ther VA system towards Trans Veterans and to prove those things like DADT that affect their lives.

We finished that survey with over 850 respondents in about five months. We turned over the data to the Palm Center and other analysts from SUNY and Chicago and the results were released, proving not only that Trans gender people are affected daily by inequities and discrimination in the VA, but that some were victims of DADT. The survey can be found on www.tavausa.org.

The question is as it has always been, not if Trans people are included, but should they have been included? For the record and in light of the proof, yes, they should have been included in DADT and they still should be included because it has been used against them to discharge them and destroy their lives.

Now, I don't care if Dan Choi or every GLB person in the country says that Trans people are not included in DADT and they don't mention them when the speak about it. That legislation they were working on hasn't seen the light of day, therefore we start from scratch. Not my rules, their rules. Any future legislation to overturn DADT should include Trans persons serving in the military, simply because there is proof now that they have had DADT used against them just like Gays and Lesbians who have tried to serve their country proudly. Furthermore, since many of our NATO allies do include and allow Trans people to serve, why would they not be included? England, Canada, Isreal, Netherlands and others all allow Trans people to serve and have for a few years without any problems.

It's time to stop saying that Trans people are not in DADT and to tell the truth. Trans people should have been included when talking about DADT all along. So lets begin right now.

I'm not sure if you only read one sentence of my post or not. It's clear that I either should've expanded my thoughts on my first sentence or left it out. I'm talking about the actual language of DADT. I know trans folks have gotten kicked out because under DADT because DADT really refers to behavior, not identity (except the way DADT has been enforced identifying as gay is also considered homosexual behavior.)

What I should have said is DADT is about behavior--sexual conduct, and not about gender.

You didn't really address what it is I'm worried about: legislation getting borked by Congress.

I'm not afraid that if we attach trans inclusive language that the repeal of DADT will have a harder time passing. I'm concerned that it will get borked the way DADT was...the law that was supposed to make it easier for gays in the military, but wasn't even close to enough.

This isn't ENDA. Military policy is written to be much more specific than "don't discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity". I'm sure you know that the military polices more aspects of servicemembers lives than any other job. And if you make it US law, trans people will have to live with it for decades to come. Because as we've seen congress doesn't move very fast on changing something like this.

Congress will ask for a helluva a lot of studies on transgender people in the military. Is that available? They're going ask about pre-op and post-op and where they will bed. Are FTMs going to be allowed to serve on submarines or Navy Seals? You know congress will ask for details on implementation.

Maybe trans activists already have stuff prepared for this. If so, great...but where is it? I'll help spread it.

Furthermore, since many of our NATO allies do include and allow Trans people to serve, why would they not be included? England, Canada, Isreal, Netherlands and others all allow Trans people to serve and have for a few years without any problems.

Gays said the same thing about gays serving in other countries, and that wasn't enough for congress. They still asked for the studies and for input from commanders. So I guess another question is are there commanders that will speak in support of trans inclusive military policy?

Angela Brightfether | February 22, 2010 1:29 PM

"Gays said the same thing about gays serving in other countries, and that wasn't enough for congress."

Yes they "did" and "did" is the main operative, which is not now. If impressions about Trans people were thrown in the mix back then when they "did" then it might not be so hard to accept now, or maybe just as hard as it is to accept GLB's now.

The point is that sometime we have to draw the line. With the proof that we do have in the TAVA survey, they can't deny that it has happened and that Trans people are affected by DADT, just like Gays and Lesbians.

As for the sleeping arrangements, there is enough of a pattern and regulations that have been established from other countries dealing with it in their brances of the service. The reason why there isn't a plethora of information about it in those countries is because it isn't that much of an issue to have to document closely. Just ask anyone who is Trans in a foreign service. We have in TAVA and they contact us from time to time on our message boards and they can't figure out what our problem is.

It's just like anything else that we have found. If management endorses the idea of Trans people, there might be a few malcontents, but for the most part everyone goes along with it and eventually it becomes a non-issue. That is true for Microsoft, IBM and lots of military contractors like Lockheed Martin.

Excuses, excuses, excuses. It's bad enough when we have to listen to them from outside the community. But it's very frustrating when it comes from inside the community.

The fact is that Trans people have been serving our country in the military since the Revolutionary War and right up to now. Yes, we have proof of that and it is undeniable and it's part of history. It's also true that they didn't start getting thrown out of the military nearly as often until DADT became SOP. If legislation is going to get introduced to allow Gays and Lesbians to serve and it overturns DADT, it should also note the same for Trans people. If it delays anything, then that only says that it should have been done inclusively in the first place instead of sneaking around the corner and knowingly being exclusive.

Trans people serve openly in some cases right now. Some of them in critical MOS's have been called back after their transition. AS Monica noted, some of them have been put on HRT before they have been discharged. The fact that in one branch if they have a critical MOS they are allowed to continue to serve while in another branch they are given the royal boot using DADT already shows that the military is ot consistent with theri policy and needs to be made to be consistent. Because if anything, the most destructive thing in the military isn inconsistency in applying their regulations and standards, of that I am most sure.

Sorry Angela, but I'm not making excuses. I'm asking how? I'm asking what is the plan? Activism has to have a plan.

I'm not resistant allowing trans folk to serve in the military. I'm certain there have been trans folk in the military a long time. And I know that there were female born persons who lived as men in the Revolutionary War and on. You don't need to sell me on transgender people, I'm already there. I kinda feel like you're like you're talking passed me.

I'm sorry this is such a chore. I can't turn back the clock. But you can't rewrite history.

Gays did not really have a say in legislating DADT to begin with. What happened is, the military had a policy regarding homosexual behavior. It wasn't a law, but a military policy.

Clinton intended to change that policy, which he had the power to do as Commander in Chief. However, Congress undermined him and passed in an amendment Defense Budget Authorization a law that basically said the military, by law, had to follow the original policy barring homosexual behavior. DADT, written by General Powell, was the best bandaid Clinton could manage to get passed in Congress. Because Congress already made it clear they would not pass a law lifting the ban because they passed a law codifying the original policy.

The gay community did not have much say in crafting this law. It was primarily General Powell's recommendations.

If this is, for you, just an airing of grievances or an exercise in scapegoating the gay community, let me know and I'll walk away. Because I can't sit here while you blame a community that was at the time dying of an epidemic.

How easily we forget that in the early 90s a large portion of the gay community was dead or dying of AIDS. And most of the activism energy at the time was spent on trying to survive, literally. Or maybe that's just another excuse to you.

That's the community I came out in as a teen. A quilt of the dead. I became aware of gay people because of their AIDS activism. The first openly gay adults I met all had AIDS--a guy my Mom worked with and a group that came to my school to talk about AIDS. Remember what it looked like back then before all the treatment?

And the media surrounding DADT appeared to be gays on trial. And in my high school social studies class the debate was pretty much me on trial.

So...if we're going to just sit here and air grievances, I can do that too.

From what I can tell, we are learning as we go. The generation before me pretty much just knew how to do AIDS activism--raise hell, raise money, get attention anyway you can, get government funding for research and treatment, take care of yourselves and each other, don't get sick and live, live, live.

One of the things I'm grateful for is that I got to come out and grow up in a community where most of my friends weren't dying or scared to die. And the generation after me has only ever seen a community of healthy people.

Have there been missteps on the way? Yes. Has the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force ever supported a non-inclusive ENDA? Not since 1999. Does everyone love the HRC? No, most people seem to think they suck. Did they get heat from gay people for supporting a non-inclusive ENDA? Oh, hell yes. Are trans folk going to hold every misstep over our heads for the rest of our lives? It seems likely. I don't know that it's particularly productive. Because all it makes me want to do is prove that I'm not the total dick it sounds like you think I am.

So to sum up, here are my "excuses." The generation before me mostly just knew how to do AIDS activism...because it was immediate and life threatening. My generation had to learn how to do activism beyond that. And it's taken a long time, especially having spent 2000-2008 in a defensive position. And we're still learning. And it appears to me that trans activists are also still learning. There's a decade of work on a trans inclusive ENDA. It didn't magically happen overnight.

I don't think this post I'm typing here is particularly productive. I actually just wanted to know about plans and policies, which I didn't get so I just looked it up myself.

http://www.sldn.org/pages/transgender-people-and-military-service

And here's my advice, though you probably don't want it...that's the vibe I get anyway. Coalescing is a process of exchanging advice, and ideas and information. When someone asks you for information and the plan, don't blow it off as "making excuses" and follow with a long rant about history. We can go round and round on that and never get passed it. And it makes it sound like you don't have a plan at all.