Earlier this month, the Pentagon quietly made history when it acknowledged a transgender veteran’s changed gender marker and updated records appropriately.
This is thought to be the first time the Department of Defense has recognized a gender transition for anyone affiliated with the armed forces, and it’s especially a big deal because trans people still cannot serve openly, even after the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.
In a short letter dated May 2, a Navy official told Autumn Sandeen, a veteran and transgender activist: “Per your request the Defense Enrollment Eligibility Reporting System (DEERS) has been updated to show your gender as female effective April 12, 2013.”
Sandeen’s military identification card now reflects the change, a move called “quite significant” by the head of OutServe-SLDN, a national organization for LGBT service members and veterans and their families.
“The fact that a process exists [to change the gender listed] indicates that there are people in the Department of Defense who are aware of the needs of transgender retirees and who are working to see those needs met. And, in that sense, the significance of this symbolic act for our broader work and for our goal of open service becomes I think a little bit more apparent,” OutServe-SLDN executive director Allyson Robinson told BuzzFeed.
Holy cow, this is a huge deal. Major congratulations to Ms. Sandeen for starting what will hopefully become a major change in how the Department of Defense treats its transgender veterans and service members. There’s no excuse for the kind of discrimination that has been perpetuated for so long.
In a move that makes clear the direction that our country is increasingly heading towards, the Department of Defense has published an update to a US code that outlines military power during civil unrest.