Monday, October 20, 2014

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Transgender Community Lobbies to be Allowed to Serve in Military

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Buffalo: Transgender Community Lobbies to be Allowed to Serve in Military
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Allyson Robinson served in the military until 1999. She left to become a baptist minister, and then within the decade that followed began living openly as a transgender woman.

"I knew that I couldn't transition while I was in the military. I knew that even discussing it would cost me my career," said Robinson.

Nearly three years after gays and lesbians began serving openly in the military, transgender service members can still be kicked out, no questions asked.

The Defense Department still classifies transgender people as sexual deviants, despite the fact that the American Psychiatric Association decided in 2012 that being transgender is not a mental disorder.

"Being transgender doesn't prevent a person from living a whole healthy life. It doesn't prevent a person from working in a difficult job under very difficult circumstances," said Robinson.

The transgender community is lobbying the Defense Department to change its rules. And so far appears officials are starting to listen. While Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel has not yet ordered a formal review of the policy, he has signaled he'd welcome one.

"I do think it continually should be reviewed. I'm open to that, by the way," said Hagel.

One issue under the microscope is how to accommodate members undergoing medical treatments during their transition.

According to a study by San Francisco State University, there are 15,000 transgender service members and that transgender people are twice as likely as the rest of the population to serve in the military.

"I think that transgender people have tremendous amount of political clout, and they need to be heard, and that's why we need to have their stories told," said Fiona Dawson from TransMilitary.

The hope is that once those stories are told, people will be open to change.

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