Christopher Beck served as a SEAL before transitioning to Kristin Beck.
A news story posted yesterday on Military.com reports that the Pentagon is considering allowing transgender troops to openly serve and profiles a pair of transgender veterans, including former Navy SEAL Kristin Beck, who gave us a fascinating interview last fall and is now running for Congress in Maryland.
Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter has declared that transgender men and women “are being hurt by an outdated, confusing, inconsistent approach that’s contrary to our value of service and individual merit.” He’s ordered a six-month study that will most likely provide a roadmap for integrating transgender troops into military service.
A study by the Williams Institute at the UCLA School of Law suggests that 150,000 transgender men and women have served in the U.S. military, with approximately 15,500 of them still in uniform. At least 18 other countries have already integrated transgender troops into their militaries.
Of course not everyone is supporting the move. Republican presidential candidate and former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee declared at last week’s debate, “The military is not a social experiment.” (Pentagon historians who can point to the military’s role in ethnic integration during the World Wars and racial integration in recent decades might disagree.)
The integration of gay and lesbian troops into the military has been accomplished with a minimum of controversy and Carter seems to think the same will happen with transgender troops: “At my direction, the working group will start with the presumption that transgender persons can serve openly without adverse impact on military effectiveness and readiness, unless and except where objective, practical impediments are identified.”
So here’s the question: Is the military ready to allow transgender men and women to serve? Are their legitimate concerns that make transgender service difficult in ways that gay and lesbian service hasn’t been? Take the survey below and let us know in the comments.