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Transgender Veterans Gaining Greater Acceptance in Military Community & Policies


Yesterday, a report in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel profiled three Wisconsin veterans with a story that’s not often heard.  They’re transgender veterans, who each served and were discharged honorably.

Reporter Meg Jones' article explores how the military and the Department of Veterans Affairs are dealing with transgender service members.

"What really kind of struck me was just the high numbers of transgendered veterans there are," Jones says. "And I found out through my research that amongst the veteran community, transgender people are twice as likely as the general public to serve in the military."

With an estimated 12,880 active transgender military service members, the amount of transgender veterans is only growing while the policies that these service members is slowly changing.

Despite the repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell in 2011, only gay, lesbian and bisexual military members can now serve openly. Transgender troops are still at risk of being discharged from the military since the policy repealed addressed sexual orientation, not gender identity. Currently the military sees transgender military members  having gender disphoria, or a psychosexual disorder.

The Pentagon is currently studying the implications of allowing transgender people to serve openly, and the veteran community is not completely in favor or against the idea.

"As you can imagine with younger people, they tend to be much more accepting. Older people, not," Jones explains. 

Undoubtedly all three veterans highlighted in Jones' article are in favor of greater acceptance and policy changes in the military, but each were also proud to have served.

"All of them said, 'I don't regret what I did and I don't regret joining the military and serving as a man, but it would have been nice to have been able to serve outwardly and be myself,'" says Jones.

Bonnie North
Bonnie joined WUWM in March 2006 as the Arts Producer of the locally produced weekday magazine program Lake Effect.
Audrey Nowakowski is a WUWM host and producer for Lake Effect.