by Madalina Olteanu, Bucharest

by Madalina Olteanu, Bucharest

Trans People in the Military

17 May, 2019

by Madalina Olteanu, Bucharest

The military is one of the most important aspects of a society. It provides security, defence and the feeling that you're protected as long as you belong to a certain state. But who belongs to the military? Initially, you'd think that anyone who fits their standard criteria does - however, their criteria change in time, meaning that it can be difficult for transgender people to be accepted too.

Let's take the example of an influent country - the U.S.A. enacted a Pentagon policy which bans trans people from the military, meaning that up to 15,000 which have been on duty so far can no longer accomplish their tasks. However, under a grandfather clause, transgender people who came out from 2016 to 2019 can remain in the forces.

When it comes to new recruits, though, they cannot transition during the service, and they have to rise up to their initial sex standards in terms of uniform and fitness, according to a Pentagon spokesperson. Obviously, trans people who have been serving in the military for years are appalled by this ban, and it's understandable - to be considered a burden after all this time is not exactly something you'd like to go through. Some celebrities including Caitlyn Jenner have been vocal about this measure, stating their contempt and disapproval.

In opposition, there is the Australian policy regarding trans and lesbian people serving in the military. The Australian Defence Force is probably the last agency whose policy allowed the firing of employees because of their transition. The ADF policy supports diversity, including gender diverse people. In 2013, the Australians codified protections against gender discrimination, along with the Sex Discrimination Act (1984). Transgender service members and their families are supported by DEFGLIS, raising awareness regarding military inclusion.

There are numerous countries which support this as well - Austria allowed transgender people to serve in the military in 2014, along with Belgium, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Israel and others. Brazil doesn't have any law that forbids their enrollment, because gender identity and sexual orientation are not criteria that have to be met if you want to be in the military or the police force. New Zealand is thought to be the world leader when it comes to diversity - since the Human Rights Act added to the New Zealand Bill of Rights Act in 1990 and 1994, such discrimination was actually criminalised.

Of course, this doesn't happen all over the world - Iran requires all men over the age of 18 to serve in the military, except for transgender women, who are thought to be mentally ill.

People still need to come a long way when it comes to acceptance and diversity, but many influent countries are open-minded and protective about the presence of LGBT members in the military. After all, this is about defending your country above anything else, so does it really matter if gender dysphoria is in the picture or not? We're humans and, in this field of work, we have the same purpose - so why do we feel the need to deny access to some who have always dreamed of doing it? This question remains unanswered.