It has been more than a year since the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” was implemented, ending a legacy of blatant discrimination in the U.S. military. Unfortunately, it did not mark the end of inequality. As the nation honors Veterans Day, various other policies continue to treat the LGBT community second-class citizens. For example, though gay, lesbian, and bisexual servicemembers can now serve openly, the Defense of Marriage Act still prevents them and their families from receiving the same protections and benefits as their straight military brethren. Servicemembers Legal Defense Network and Freedom To Marry have released a new video, “Second Skin,” that “viscerally captures the cruelty” of treating LGB soldiers differently:
In addition, the military still does not allow transgender individuals to serve openly, deeming them “disordered.” Given the American Psychiatric Association is declassifying trans identities as a disorder in the coming year, this could be an important opportunity to advocate for change within the military. The National Center for Transgender Equality notes that progress has been made in providing benefits to the trans veterans who served in silence, but there is still more to be done:
On this Veterans’ Day, NCTE salutes the contributions and sacrifices of transgender veterans. According to the National Transgender Discrimination Survey, 1 in 5 transgender adults has served in the armed forces. These brave Americans have served in silence, and often been denied the benefits they worked so hard and risked so much to earn. [...]
There is still much to do. Trans people are still forced to serve in silence, as our non-trans gay, lesbian, and bisexual brothers and sisters thankfully no longer have to do. Trans veterans are still denied their hard-earned health benefits when it comes to medically necessary transition-related surgeries. NCTE will keep working to fulfill our promises to trans servicemembers and veterans.
No individual wishing to protect this nation should be disqualified simply because of their identity, nor should they be denied benefits that others are entitled to.