Transgender soldiers deserve military acceptance

By Doreen Misiorek

How can Transgender Soldiers Negatively Impact my Military Career?
Quick answer: They can’t. Repealed June 2016, the ban on transgender persons in the U.S. military required individuals to hide certain characteristics about themselves.

Now that this barrier has been removed, transgender Service members are able to participate openly without penalty. The removal of this ban can strengthen our force, increasing recruiting, retention, and readiness by ensuring that these soldiers receive appropriate care for their mental and physical needs. How liberating it must be for these soldiers to feel comfortable and accepted in all facets.

Transgender persons may experience dysphoria, depression, or diminished self-confidence. Medical professionals concurrently determine that sometimes it’s more effective to change the physical appearance than program the brain to attempt to handle the dissonance of how a person feels and what they see. If a medical doctor and psychiatrist approve a soldier for military duty, then who are we to argue.

The repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” and the inclusion of women in combat positions supports the mission of the Department of Defense to fill jobs with the most qualified person, regardless of gender or other dissimilarities.  And let’s face it, transgender soldiers are already serving in the military. The repeal of this policy simply decriminalizes their gender change. Preventing an otherwise qualified population of people to serve in the armed forces can truly be a threat to national security if we fail to recognize the attributes reflected in individual differences.

Critics of this Department of Defense decision often claim that safety and harassment prevention are the primary reasons for opposition. Research has proven that sexual assault is a prevalent crime in all institutions among non-transgender people. This should be acknowledged. And please, let’s give soldiers more credit. Although it is understandable that soldiers of a younger generation are generally more accepting of transgender persons, this does not mean that older, or culturally deficient soldiers are incapable of changing or being educated.

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I believe that advocacy for transgender rights in the military will be met with the similar reception and resistance as other inclusion policies, but that essentially, we will all benefit from the diversity, and appreciate that our leaders are forward thinkers. So no, transgender soldiers won’t negatively impact my military career, they will enhance it.

If the U.S. military is to be an “instrument of social change” then we must be welcoming, all inclusive and reflective of our changing society. The U.S. Army is one of the most diverse organizations in the world and I hope we continue to keep it this way. There is no excuse for injustice and I believe that the repeal of the discriminatory Department of Defense transgender policy is another step in the right direction.

Doreen Misiorek is a masters student at the University 

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Editor’s note: Doreen Misiorek of Springfield, IL has served in the Military for 12 years. The opinions expressed in this letter are her own and not those of the United States Army, the Illinois National Guard, or the Department of Defense.