Sound Off: Should Transgender Troops Be Allowed to Serve?



Christopher Beck served as a SEAL before transitioning to Kristin Beck.

A news story posted yesterday on 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Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter has declared that transgender men and women “are being hurt by an outdated, confusing, inconsistent approach that’s contrary to our value of service and individual merit.”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.

  • VegasJen

    I can’t vote in this as the options are too restrictive. As a transgender veteran, I have decidedly different views from the majority of the “community”, but alas, I’m also very conservative.
    I struggled with my desire to transition during my service and had to repress that identity for the whole of my enlistment, plus years afterward before the inner pressure became too much to bear. Kristen Beck’s book was the proverbial straw in my case that pushed me over the edge. Before I read her book, I felt really alone in my identity. It wasn’t until after I began my transition that I discovered just how many of us there really are. Far more than the public in general and the military specifically would guess.
    I fully believe transgender Americans can serve and do so with distinction. However, I do not believe the service is a place for active transition. As someone who has gone through/is going through transition I can tell you with great confidence that the process is extremely demanding. For people to promise that it will not be a distraction to the transitioner personally, or to the unit peripherally, is deceptive at best.
    My idea is somewhat complicated but I believe that those that feel compelled to transition should be allowed to leave active duty, subject to recall, for a period while undergoing transition. It’s more detailed but not overly complicated. And I think it is a reasonable and just accommodation.
    BTW, while I’m not a fan, Huckabee was right in his comment.

    • Sqwerty

      That, in my view, was a superb comment. As I read the article, I thought the flaw in the ointment would be transitioning while in the service. Your personally informed comment reinforced that passing thought. Thank you for your comment.

      • Wtf

        you need mental help. A woman can never become man and vice versa.

      • Rick

        Very well thought out comment to this difficult question Im sure not many have though of the demands throughout the process, not only that but how would you house the person?

    • sw614

      Well stated. Thanks for the insight

    • Mike

      Well stated, I agree. Both of my parents served, My brother serves now, and I served. Thank you for your service. I have nothing against people in transition or gay/lesbians but I think anyone openly expressing their sexual preferences and serving actively causes a lot of confusion, division, and hurts the overall effectiveness of a unit. If the military decides to make changes that’s one thing (which your proposal sounds like a good middle ground), but politicians forcing the military to change at the cost of peoples lives is another. Veterans who have served with distinction who are transgender, gay, lesbian, or anything deserve full thanks and full honors.

  • Guest

    As long as an individual serves with honor, meets standards, and does their job effectively there is no reason they shouldn’t be able to serve their country. This is America, Land of Opportunity.

    • Kim

      Too much ‘BLING’ around your neck to show your RICH STATUS on the battlefield is DISTRACTING!

      Too much hair (men) and too much sexy looks (women) are DISTRACTING on the battlefield while they could easily DEMAND THEIR GOOD LOOKS TO PREVAIL..

      Too many TATOOS for the TOUGH among you are said to be DISTRACTING on the battlefield..










      That’s all what I have to say about it!!!

      Ps. Hairdo, Tatoos and Lucky Charms are SHOW OF CHARACTER.. THAT IS NOT ALLOWED WHILE SOMEONE’S GENDER IS BEING HAILED INTO THE MILITARY WHO USED TO HAVE A TOUGH & AWESOME REPUTATION!!! Why not allowing one’s own hairdo, tatoos and luck charms HUH?!?

  • CTOCS77

    So are you saying that Gay troops should not be serving either? We have already seen that they can be a SEAL. What more proof do you need?

    • Bob

      Come on Senior Chief, you know as well as I do that this SEAL hide his gay/tranny attitudes ! I don’t think they would have given him the Trident if they had known !! (CTR1 retired).

      • CTOCS77

        Hey Bob. Spoken like a true “R” Brancher. :) You know as well as I do that we had gay sailors during our tours and no one really said anything. We had guys that said they were gay to get out of going on a WestPac but other than that never really paid that much attention to it. Hope retirement is being good to you. …AR

  • Jango Soprano

    Sappers in the wire……..

  • carol joyce

    The US Military does not need PERVERTS !!!!

    • Kim

      Hear Hear!!! RIGHT ON!!!

    • Charlie

      They’re not perverts lmao. They just identify with the opposite gender. xD

  • JamesWilliams

    No Way! How do you expect Americans to trust you with their sons and daughters lives – make life/death decisions in Combat when you can’t even decide if you are a man or woman! Get real and get help or go do a profession that the cost isn’t paid for in lives. If you can’t even handle who you are, I don’t trust you making life / death decisions or mentoring period!

    • CTOCS77

      To answer your first question, shoot straight and down range.

    • VegasJen

      You clearly don’t understand the issue. What’s more, I don’t think you have any desire to. It’s what I call “stubborn willful ignorance”. The problem is transgender people ***know*** what gender we are. It’s society that can’t accept, in spite of a great deal of mounting evidence, that one’s gender identity does not necessarily correlate to their genetic make up.
      Just because you can’t understand or relate to something doesn’t make it untrue.

  • JamesWilliams

    I will say this, dressing up as a woman when you are a guy and changing yourself into a woman- or man because you want to? You expect people to put their life in your hands when you can’t even decide you are a man or woman? Good luck on that one. So you are a guy who claim transgender to be a woman and now turn to lesbian to sleep with women and shower with them and still keep your man parts? How many women will complain to share their showers, living quarters with “him” exposed running around half naked? What about the husbands and wives! hahahaha! So – once done- anyone can claim any status to suit their agenda and there can not be any complaints done. Men will live with women and women with men. The wife / husband will have to deal with the fooling around aspects.

    • CTOCS77

      I would have to say that what you are packing would have to be the determination where you are berthing.

    • VegasJen

      Hate to break it to you, chief, but fooling around has been part of the military for centuries. Nothing new there.
      But to address your particular irrational stereotypes see my original post and my reply to CTOCS77.

  • bigfatduke

    More drag queen bull.

  • Steve

    Let’s see…

    At my first duty station, there was a guy who wore dresses off duty and was very well known on and off post for his flamboyant lifestyle.

    Also, a guy I once knew talked me in to going to a gay bar because straight women went there to avoid getting hit on. I found out he was right. I also found every battallion medic sitting at the bar.

    This was in 19-farging-83. All I wanna know is who are all these veterans and politicians talking about letting them in. Newsflash: they’re IN.

  • Kim


  • LIAM

    Gays in the military…OK….transgender….I think goes toooo far! That person should deal with thier choices BEFORE or AFTER the military. they can always identify as Gay..fine with me! But this whole thing of NOT deciding on what side of the fence you are on…..ENOUGH!!@

  • Jack

    As long as she doesn’t grow her beard back.

  • XRadMan

    My opinion is that the military is not the place for homosexuals or anyone who has a sex identity crisis issue. Is their choice whether they want to go against nature and become what they can never really be. That procedure of sex change is only esthetic and doesn’t change what one is born as. Of course, no one should be discriminated against as CIVILIANS. Is just that there isn’t a place for them in the military for obvious reasons. What, do the military now has to provide quarters and facilities for those sexually confused? Let’s be reasonable.

  • JohnD

    If they have completed transformation, then they should be allowed in as women. If not they are cross dressers and are in between and will find that a third, latrine, showers, barracks and uniforms will be needed putting unneeded strain on the system. They should be put on temporary retirement until their surgeries are completed and the can identify with either male or female. This in between is temporary and should be finalized before being allowed to,serve!

  • WiingNut1950

    You this may the only way that females will get into the Rangers without doctoring the course. Inside of every trans gender female, there’s Ranger waiting to be born.

  • WiingNut1950

    Before anyone jumps on me, this is not a cut on the Rangers. Even though I am Air Force retired, I have a lot of respect for the Rangers.

  • Martin F. Stewart


  • Ralph E Roe Sr

    Change is always difficult to deal with! Throughout my U.S. Navy career, witch hunts were common, to “round up” the gays and kick them out. All these years later, we find gays serving openly and doing excellent work. All races and genders are now accepted in to all ranks and rates. It won;t be any different for transgenders; it is just another change we need adjust to!

  • Grey Wolf

    Apparently, you cannot use the abbreviated form of fornicate on this thread. So much for freedom of speech.

    • Well_Seasoned

      Has nothing to do with freedom of speech … and everything to do with class. Those lacking it shouldn’t be surprised when their latrine talk is cleaned up a bit.

  • Shaun

    I’m retired from the US Army after 25 years service and fortunately never had to consider this issue as a leader. On the one hand, I believe the services should be open to all who have the desire to serve, as it is an honorable and patriotic profession. However, if someone who is transgender wants to serve, they should be completely transitioned to the sex they identify with. There is no room for someone in the middle, like a shemale type. My first thought is where would such a person with opposing genitalia go to shower in basic training? A guy transitioning to a woman couldn’t be in a female shower when he still has a penis – that would create all sorts of problems and would most likely make the normal trainees uncomfortable. That same guy couldn’t shower in the men’s shower either if he has womanly breasts. So now a situation is created where entirely separate latrines and showers would have to be made for these select few individuals otherwise. That’s a lot of money to be spent on specialized latrines for a very small minority. Therefore, if a transgender wants to serve, go for it but they need to be completely transitioned physically to whichever sex they identify with. That is really the only way I see to avoid problems.

  • Well_Seasoned

    In my view, the opinions of those no longer in service or subject to recall aren’t worth a fart in a hurricane. The only opinions that matter come from those that have to live with the decision. If they are good with transgenders serving, so am I.

    • misty

      Hey there.
      As a current active duty SSgt, I don’t care if we have transgender individuals in our service. All my fellow airmen are family. We need to worry about the airmen who fail their psych eval and shoot up hangers filled with soldiers. Or militant Islamists who openly fire on Marines. Let the transgender kid in any day.

  • Greg

    I have no problem with the transgender community. However, I do have a problem with the taxpayers becoming responsible for the cost of the process. If they choose to serve after the process is complete, that is acceptable.

  • bill

    I don’t care who serves as long as they’re not a muslim. I don’t worry about the gays or transgender; I worry about the muslim who wants to kill me.

  • Ted Hepler

    The mission of the military is not to make one happy or fulfill one’s needs; the needs of the services always come first; period……..

  • ME Mills

    N O, N O, They will find some reason why it not fair and or equal because of their “special’ status.

  • kdh451

    Homosexuals were integrated “with a minimum of controversy.” Of course, to speak up, to “cause controversy” would ruin your career. Homosexuals and transgenders have no place in the military. Glad my active duty days are long past!

  • gildyslast1

    Just a couple of thoughts: If someone is struggling with determining what sex they are, I suggest getting counseling. And I’m not saying this to insult.
    Secondly, I’ve wondered if a few such people, especially guys, simply sought a means to sneak a peek at women; or have the sex-change operation and, oddly enough, declare themselves lesbian. Hm.
    Third, no matter what a person says or feels, or even if they undergo an operation, were an archaeologist to dig up their bones and test them – they would be identified as the sex they were born as.
    As best I understand, brains don’t determine sex; they determine how we deal with what we have/are.

  • T Reece

    Stop the social experimenting and the political correctness in the US Military.

  • Skyghost

    I believe transgenders should not be allowed in the military. They are a distraction and one we can live very without. No, they should not be serving in the military.

  • Ray

    Personally I believe they should serve, however on duty they should be who the creator made them to be, off duty I really don’t care what they do or perceive their self to be. While I was a 1SG and knew there were gays and lesbians in my unit my main policy was they do your job and keep your sexuality to yourself. I was never dissatisfied with their performance or attitude while on duty.

  • Former SGM

    What happened to the concept of “JOIN the Army?” Being able to serve has always been a selective thing, restricted by a vast array of factors. Is today’s military so short handed and desperate for enlistees we’ll take anything, and waive the standards that have served our country well for over 200 years?

  • gunnartheviking

    Army of one reduced to Army of none.

  • Allen

    just “Do The Right Thing . This Gay, Lesbian, BiSexual, Transgender is nothing more than a Choice.
    You are not born with this its a Choice. You choose what you want to become. Very Simple stuff folks.
    and if you are not able to make choices and correct choice then you made a choice that you don’t know
    right from wrong. God did not make any junk. He made you who he wanted the type of person you should be. I think its a slap in the face to God to try and your gender just because of your choice.
    Deal with it and “Do the right thing”

  • Dan

    It doesn’t matter a diddly damn what I or anyone else thinks about this issue. It’s gonna happen because our fallen society and our fallen chain of command see nothing wrong with it. What POTUS wants and the courts legislate is gonna be the rule and no General Officer is gonna fall on his/her/it’s sword to disagree. I’m just so glad I retired before any of this crap was even thought of.

  • ENG1SG(Ret.)

    The problem is not whether one is Gay or Transgender. The problem is that the military is being forced to focus on a social mission instead of being warfighters. BTW, now that war is being waged here on our soil. Wake up people and do your JOB! Leave the Hetero / Homo sexual issues in the bedroom where it belongs and focus on the mission. Before all of these issues came to light there was a major problem with sexual assault and harassment. Why? because discipline has gone out the window, and people are not focused on being soldiers,sailors, airmen, and marines! Adhere to the standards, defend the nation, finish the mission and return home to your loved ones whomever they may be.

  • John

    If so, the Military needs one set on fitness standards. which standard are they held to, the one the claim to be or the one their DNA states they are?

  • Anon

    The way I see it, it doesn’t matter who or what you identify as. What matters is service and loyalty to your country and fellow servicemen and women. If you can serve effectively and complete the mission you’ve been given, it shouldn’t matter if you’re gay, straight or transgender.

  • sarge

    They are already there, Bradley/Chelsea Manning and tax payers with have pay for their mental illness

  • Charlie

    1.Being transgendered is not considered a mental illness/disability unless it causes depression or anxiety due to gender dysphoria, in which case, they treat the gender dysphoria to get rid of the depression. All they’re doing is treating the root cause of depression/anxiety.
    2.There are already an estimated of 15,000 transgender troops actively serving. So too late folks, they’re ALREADY serving, the only change is that it will no longer be a “don’t ask, don’t tell”. Aka they can be open about it.
    3.Being transgendered is different from drag. They’re not just cross dressers. They truly have the brain of the opposite sex. Their brain is legit set up as a member of the gender they identify with. This is backed by science; I can link you to a bunch of things if I need to.
    4.Transgendered people are not unstable. They are not lying to you. They are not lying to themselves.
    5.Gender and sex are two different things. Gender is in your brain and sex is in your genitalia. Gender is a social construct. Sex is your biology.
    6.Again, why does it matter what’s between someone’s legs? At the end of the day, you’re not gonna give a shit when you’re crying for momma because you just got shot, with who saves your life and drags you out of harm’s way. At least I hope you wouldn’t deny help from a transgendered person if you’re dying.
    7.The Military IS politically correct. Sorry. Once, black people weren’t allowed to serve with white people. Once, women were denied any kind of service. Should we back out of those social experiments too? Because they seem to be doing well
    8.18 other nations ALREADY allow transgender troops to serve openly and they’re doing okay.
    9.If you don’t want a soldier to protect you, then you need to get the hell out of the Military. If you don’t wanna serve next to another soldier, you shouldn’t be a damn soldier. Get used to it. We exist.

    • Pat McGroyne

      Will you be marching in formation with your rainbow flags along side the national and unit colors ?

  • But if you have Gastric Surgery you can’t serve. Damn Caitlyn

  • valuedbeliever

    I believe that IF they, whichever it may be, does the transformation all the way and are living as that sex, then yes, transgender individuals should be allowed. This is the country of the open opportunity for all Americans. I don’t see there being any reason why they shouldn’t be allowed… It is their own decision to do it, it should be their own decision to serve.

  • lmillert

    Why can’t people keep their private lives separate from their professional life. My navy career began 18 July 1960. I knew some men who were gay….undeclared…..that was a way to get “out” of the service then if you were fed up. Of course we didn’t even have “don’t ask don’t tell” but I didn’t bother me if they were that way. they never bothered me. all this freedom is like cancer you give in to one group then the next group and then another on and on, It won’t be that far off until beastality will be allowed….then Jesus will return and we will all be judged the same……..just a side note……..Muslims procreate 8-1 over any other group. With our political process in 50 years they will vote in all the representatives and senators. Shia will be law of the land and their low will severe and sudden. Just saying but our administration sympathises with them………there will come a breaking point. I Pity my grandchildren…..but then again we Christians are hate mongers

    Read more:
    Under the Radar

  • thelonesailor

    NOT in my Navy !! Wanna play “What sex am I?” or are you still undecided ??? Don’t know a lie from the truth ?? Then run for Congress or buy yourself a Presidency. But whatever you do…. don’t step aboard my ship !!

  • Borquez

    I was a solider in th US Army, and I believe the military is for men and men only. I was raised to believe that the choice to serve was that of a man, and the inclusion of women would create a distraction, from the true reason and need of military personnel. Now we have an added distraction of transgendered persons. This is only the beginning of future conflicts, which is unnecessary in the military. Let the GIs focus on their reason for being soldiers and diminish any unnecessary distractions.

  • tacgirl2000

    The issue of transgender has always been a sad one. Beyond any other harmless difference, people who are ignorant of anything having to do with who transgenders really are, people who have insecurities about their own sexuality or the appearance they project etc react not only with extreme anger, but it somehow allows them the ability to not feel the least guilt/empathy no matter how cruelly they can act. Not only does it happen with the average population, but even the outliers. Few realize that in the LGBT world, even LG&Bs make fun of them. It allows even the most morally bankrupt people to feel as if they have a shining halo. (it’s where relatively normal people will allow themselves to torture murder young M2F trangenders when they are discovered). Many psychiatrists aren’t aware of some of the important basics of their personality.

    No one would pursue a long, humiliating, expensive and lonely path like this just for fun and none fall into the definition of a harmful sexual deviant, it is certainly not a matter of not being able to decide, they are not cross-dressers who want to be flamboyant in front of people…in fact, one thing they all want is to simply blend in and not bother anyone. It is not a perversion in the commonly understood negative sense. NOT ONE who realizes that they’ll be recognized because they waited long past puberty would ever do that as a lark (fyi – contrary to popular believe, voice doesn’t change, facial hair doesn’t go away and the bone structure is already set).

    Most spend their entire lives trying their best to not be or prove themselves by choosing to do some of the most demanding and dangerous jobs.

    No one loses their abilities, experience nor training after transitioning. To not put absolute faith in someone like Kristin, for example, who has accomplished and proven herself in ways which probably 99.99% could never do would be ludicrous beyond words. If you have someone who is passable with that kind of training, imagine what an asset they could be? (e.g. intel, FET, CST, even convoy ahead teams watching for problem areas sitting either alone or as a couple).

    I could go on forever – it’s a huge topic. I understand that there are cultural, logistic and military cultural hurdles so there are hurdles. There are some elite military teams in other countries who used women successfully in very dangerous assignments.

    I suppose it’s all about the military doing some hard tradeoff analysis. Also with the current political climate, there’s a lot of resentment about using the word courage. There are different kinds of courage but those who served in bleeding edge combat as well as facing the incredible criticism as well as a life of solitude except for the luckiest – apples and oranges, the magnitude of courage is in the same ballpark. The suicide statistics out their are small compared to what the real numbers are like.

    I’ve had a number of military friends who transitioned and stayed in the military in other countries and are as effective as they once were. One acquaintance of mine was one of the A-10 pilots shot down during Desert Storm and is now an airline pilot – and looks darned good. I had a key part of the IIR Maverick design and test so we chatted about how it worked (it killed more tanks than the GAU, combined with another project of mine – the two decimated the Republican Guard and saved countless US lives).

    Naturally if it proves to be a huge detriment to our country’s armed services after a decent trial, then no. However imagine what a Bourne someone who looks totally natural would be? Talk about an advantage.

    Apologizes for a long post, besides having worked in the black world my entire career as a scientist/engineer, I have essentially degrees in other fields like psychology and gender identity was a real fascination for me).

    Best regards to all and whatever the Pentagon decides, I trust it will strengthen our defensive posture by tons especially with Putin, China and that NorKo guy with the odd haircut sensing a weak leader like the predators they are! :)

  • Rick

    What does you comment have to do with this article?

  • Biased and Offended

    I am a woman, currently in the service, and it has been on of the biggest mistakes I ever made! Women should have never been allowed in combat, on ships, or pilots. Accepting women into the services has not only increased biased discrimination but has also increased the number of assaults, abortions, and suicides. Men were made/built/born to handle the type of stress and rigorous physical activity necessary to keep our country safe. I understand this is a biased opinion but I have witnessed first hand the cruelty women face in the service.

  • galloglas

    Sad Sack, goofball and disturbed.

  • A 1980-90 Veteran

    The military services have been a social experiment in tolerance for unaccepted groups since they were formed. In the 1700s there was concern that Jews and other Non-Christians would undermine the force. They didn’t. The 1800s arguments about whether African Americans could fight were resolved in 1863-4. The side that didn’t believe it lost. Then arguments about whether Whites and Non-whites could fight together as integrated units was resolved in 1950 in Korea, for anyone who still had a question about whether non-Caucasians could LEAD – that was settled in Viet Nam. Then about women who turn out to be just fine helicopter, fighter pilots and plus every other job assigned, Also gays who actually had BEEN serving since the Revolution. No question every minority was ABLE to serve successfully when allowed to. The rank and file 18 – 30 year olds will have no problem accepting this. Hopefully anyone older who doesn’t yet will eventually notice this .
    If they don’t that belief must be respected – the right to have any opinion and express it is guaranteed by the Constitution. But eventually people with some opinions end up just talking to themselves.

  • 1SG Bill G

    The military is not a proving ground for political or social experimentation. Retired last year after 35 plus years. If you ask me I say no to this! And BULL to the study stated in the article, there s no way 150K transgenders have gone through the military. Liberals sometimes have a tendency to make up facts. What will be next?

  • Trans Sisters United

    A few things to clarify: (1) transgender is not about sexuality, it’s about gender (M/F). (2) transgender is not an identity, it’s a process. (3) changing one’s sex/gender is a medical journey, one involving hormones which are steroids, not psych meds (4) 18 other nations already have open transgender enlistments (5) transgender enlistees are not about 1/2 and 1/2 as in hybrid; they have discarded birth sex for their identified sex. (6) transgender enlistees include transmales as well.

    All of the other wrinkles can be worked out, as they have been elsewhere.

  • Joseph

    I think they should be allow to serve, even though by allowing them to do so would probably create various difficulties that was not present with the lift of dont ask, dont tell. However, thats the point of working out such things beforehand to allow both the soldiers and the military to adapt to the change in a relatively smooth fashion.

  • Joseph

    As another note to the conversation and to answer a question another asked, yes, they should be granted the right to live, train, etc. with whatever gender in which they relate, but not nessisarily to have their own separate quarters and the like relegated just to those who are transgender.