We are shocked by the barbaric treatment of women and children by ISIS, and in Taliban-controlled areas of Afghanistan and Pakistan, and yet we still have traces of barbarism in how we treat fellow human beings in our own society. A short time ago in America, if you were a woman or African-American you didn’t have the same personal liberties as a white male living in America. And as I’m writing this WordPress doesn’t even recognize transgenders as a word in the plural form, it gets highlighted in red confusion.
I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character. -MLK
A great quote by Martin Luther King however, I’d add “by the color of their skin or gender, but by the content of their character.
When I served from 1993-2006 as a Navy SEAL, you couldn’t openly serve in the military if you were gay. It was the period of DADT (Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell). Some people may say that DADT worked, but it was an excuse to ignore the obvious. I had several friends in the Navy who were silently gay, it really didn’t bother me.
One thing I’ve always appreciated about the Special Operations community is the forward-thinking and the pure meritocracy of the community. The majority of guys I know really don’t care about someone’s sexual orientation, they don’t have time for it. Can you do your job, and can you do it well? That’s the simplicity of the situation to me when it comes to the subject of Transgenders serving openly in the military.
They’ve been serving with distinction (although in secret) for years, just as Gays did before DADT was repealed in 2010. My friend Brett Jones, a BUD/S classmate of mine, was forced out of the Navy for being gay. Brett is a solid guy who I still keep in touch with on Facebook, and I would have served downrange with him any day, no question about it. His separation was ultimately America’s loss, and now we’re closing out more good people that want to volunteer their service because of the current discrimination against the transgender community. Just look at Beck and the new CNN film Lady Valor.
Why is this?
To be fair, not all I’ve served with in the Special Operations community have been supportive (but most), I’ve even had some former teammates question my open support of gays and transgenders in the military. I really don’t see what the problem is – you’re either on the right side of history and humanity, or you’re not. I make no apologies for supporting this community and doing my small part to make the world a better place for my own children.
Right now, transgenders are serving in secrecy on dangerous military assignments across the globe, whether you want to acknowledge it or not. To “pretend it away” or to use religion as a crutch are not viable solutions. Many countries already allow service including the Australian and British militaries which have allowed transgenders to openly serve for years.
The sooner the US DOD leadership allows the transgender community to serve openly, the better off this country and our all-volunteer US Military will be. At a time when the US Warfighter is stretched razor thin from over a decade of sustained combat operations the timing couldn’t be better.
(Main Image: Former Navy SEAL Kristen Beck)