John M. Becker

First-Ever International Trans Military Conference Held in D.C.

Filed By John M. Becker | October 20, 2014 6:00 PM | comments

Filed in: Politics, Transgender & Intersex
Tags: ACLU, Allyson Robinson, Brynn Tannehill, Landon Wilson, military, military service, open service, Palm Center, trans service, transgender servicemembers

trans-military-conference-dc.jpgToday in Washington, D.C., the American Civil Liberties Union and the Palm Center held the first-ever international conference of transgender military service members on U.S. soil. The conference, called "Perspectives on Transgender Military Service from Around the Globe," featured currently serving trans service members from five of the 18 foreign militaries where trans people are currently allowed to serve openly and authentically, as well as U.S. advocates for transgender military inclusion.

A joint ACLU-Palm Center press release says the conference "is expected to ?inform the national conversation about U.S. military policy."

"The lesson from today's conference is clear," said Aaron Belkin, Director of the Palm Center and a professor of political science at San Francisco State University. "Transgender personnel serve successfully in foreign militaries, and inclusive policy will be successful in the U.S. as well."

?Today's conference included currently serving transgender personnel from the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and Sweden.? An estimated 15,500 transgender individuals currently serve in the U.S. military, but they are banned by Pentagon rules from serving, and if their identity is discovered, the military is required to discharge them.

James Esseks, Director of the ACLU Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender & HIV Project, and a co-organizer of the conference, said: "It's time for the U.S. to embrace all LGBT military personnel. Full inclusion for transgender service members is a reality across the globe."

The conference included panels on military diversity, stories from combat zones, and discussion of lessons and best practices from allied militaries. In one panel discussion on "Deployment in Austere Conditions," transgender service members from the Australian and British armed forces, along with Landon Wilson, a transgender U.S. navy veteran, shared their stories from the front lines.

In addition to Wilson, other American guests at the invite-only conference included transgender veterans Allyson Robinson and Brynn Tannehill (a Bilerico contributor), retired trans Navy SEAL Kristin Beck, TransMilitary producer Fiona Dawson, and LGBT military advocate Sue Fulton.

In related news, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi endorsed open transgender military service for the first time on Friday, in a statement delivered through a spokesperson to the Washington Blade.

Photo by Brynn Tannehill.

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