Guest Blogger

Moment of Silence for Trans Service Members on September 20

Filed By Guest Blogger | August 22, 2011 12:00 PM | comments

Filed in: Politics
Tags: Don't Ask Don't Tell, trans servicemembers, transgender servicemembers

Editors' note: Monica F. Helms is the president of the Transgender Americans Veterans Association.

September 20, 2011 will go down as one of the most pivotal days in LGB history. On that day, gay, lesbian and bisexual service members will no longer have to hide their sexual orientation from the US military. LGB people will be allowed to enlist (or reenlist) in the military, and those already serving will be able to openly say who they love . . . if they wish to.

However, for the trans community, September 20 will be a bittersweet day. The "sweet" will be because we will all be thrilled to see another wall of discrimination crumble into history. We will celebrate along with our LGB brothers and sisters, and thank all of those who have served our country proudly. Our thanks will also go out to those who will step forward to join their ranks. Tears of joy will flow that day from all of us.

The "bitter" part comes when the celebration is over and trans people will still face discrimination from the US military. Trans service members will be ejected because the military says we have a "psychosexual condition," which they put in the same category as "exhibitionism, transvestism, voyeurism, and other paraphilias." No trans-identified person will be allowed to enlist for the same reason.

The Transgender American Veterans Association wants to first congratulate all the people who worked tirelessly on getting Don't Ask, Don't Tell repealed ,and helped the Administration and the Department of Defense to smoothly integrate LGB people into the services. Our members worked alongside LGB people to put this terrible law to rest and we are proud to see our work not go in vain.

On this day of celebration, TAVA has one request for all of those who will be cheering and partying. We ask that everyone take a moment of silence to acknowledge that the fight is not over. A moment of silence for all of those trans people who will still face discharge when being outed. Take a moment to remember the trans people who gave their lives in silence to protect this country. TAVA stands in solidarity with our brothers and sister in celebrating this historical day. All we ask is for them to stand in solidarity with the trans community in our struggle to end ALL discrimination in the US military. The fight is not over.

To say that you or your organization will observe a moment of silence at a celebration on September 20 for trans service members, go to the Facebook Event page and click on "Attending."

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Thanks, Monica, for this timely reminder. As a cis-gay male veteran it is with gratitude that I read your message. My understanding is that this part of the struggle is a regulatory one. I hope that in the coming weeks and months you and others who are leaders in this effort can give some insight on who and how to lobby for change.