One of the executive orders of President Biden’s first day on the job concerned lifting the transgender ban on people serving in the military. The ban had been put in place by President Trump. The ban had applied to regular and special operations soldiers.

In May 2020, Biden had said he would direct the Pentagon to let “transgender service members serve openly and free from discrimination in the military.”

At his confirmation hearing last week, Secretary of Defense Austin had stated that he would support an effort to repeal the ban.

“I support the president’s plan to overturn the ban,” Austin told the Senate Armed Services Committee. “If you’re fit and you’re qualified to serve, and you can maintain the standards, you should be allowed to serve, and you can expect that I will support that throughout.”

The White House and the Pentagon declined to comment on the executive order.

I have been unable to find an actual number on how many transgender people are currently serving in the military. Some figures suggest up to 15,000.

Let’s take a look at David Schroer, now Diane, who spent 25 years in the Army and retired as a decorated full colonel in Special Forces. Her specialty at the end of her service was counter-terrorism.

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Colonel Diane Schroer. Photo by Tom Williams.
Diane Schroer, formerly a Special Forces colonel.

After retiring in 2008, she applied for a job as a research specialist in terrorism and international crime at the Library of Congress. She got the job. But when she told her prospective boss that she was transitioning from David to Diane and wanted to start work as Diane to minimize any fuss, things changed. The Library decided that, as it turned out, she was not a good fit and yanked the job away. Diane came to the ACLU LGBT Project and sued.

In Washington, DC, a federal district court judge ruled that the Library of Congress had discriminated against Diane Schroer when it offered her a job and then rescinded it after learning she was transgender.

Next, we have Alana McLaughlin, from Portland, Oregon, who previously in Special Operations as a member of Special Forces.

Alana McLaughlin now

Unknown to her fellow soldiers, Alana, 32, said that she had always felt female and joined the Special Forces to either “become a man” or be killed.

Alana said, “I joined the military initially because I felt like it was my only option to either force myself into manhood somehow or die.”

Now Alana has finally found the courage to live as a female, and after a full gender reassignment surgery, she is hoping to find love as a woman.

So both of these cases took place after service. However, there are a few transgender persons currently serving within Special Operations. If you have been to Fort Bragg, you may have met the Green Beret that was formerly a man.

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Most older Green Berets, such as myself, would argue that neither the military nor special operations is a place for a transgender person. We could even bring up science and mental health arguments that could back up our position.

So, let’s hold here just for a moment and find something to support this. According to the American Psychiatric Association, the term “transgender” refers to a person whose birth-assigned sex does not match their gender identity. Some people who are transgender will experience “gender dysphoria.” This refers to the psychological distress or discomfort that results from an incongruence between one’s assigned sex at birth and one’s gender identity or sex-related physical characteristics. Though gender dysphoria often begins in childhood, some people may not experience it until after puberty or even much later.

Gender dysphoria is typically treated through hormone replacement therapy, gender reassignment, and therapy.

I’ve been interacting with the infantry from the 82nd Airborne a lot lately. It’s fairly normal nowadays to see a woman or two among the ranks of the infantry platoon. I have even met a female 11A — the Military Occupation Specialty designator for Infantry officers. It’s less likely to see women in Special Operations, but that too is changing. Off to the side, I asked the men what their thoughts were. And for the most part, they all seemed very accepting of the women they worked with.

Keep in mind that the military isn’t composed of the crusty old warhorses that have spent most of their career in battle. I spoke to a young private last week who was born after 9/11. (Read: WHAT?!) I was well into my career during 9/11 and could tell you exactly where I was and what I was doing on that day. At the time, I was in the Infantry and in the day room after the first formation when I saw the towers fall. It was a day we all could never forget.

Like many of our readers, I have interacted with serious Taliban leaders, military leaders of multiple countries, and ambassadors. It is my opinion that the world — and the Special Operations community — is not ready for this big of a change. I have openly voiced that I don’t believe the globe is ready for a female POTUS either. Although I believe our western counterparts would be just fine with it, our Middle Eastern partners would scorn her.

So while our next generation may accept this big policy change regarding transgender people, I do not believe the military or the world is ready for it yet.