SPARTA Calls SecDef Omission a “Slap in the Face”
Secretary of Defense Speaks at Pentagon Pride, Makes No Mention of Trans Military Service
Washington, DC – The Secretary of Defense spoke at today’s Pentagon event commemorating LGBT Pride Month, but failed to mention transgender military service, despite mounting support for change to the decades-old policies.
“Words of inclusion are empty without action, action that is long overdue. This was a perfect time for the Secretary to announce, at the very least, an expedited policy update and/or uniformly elevating transgender discharge authority to the Pentagon. With thousands of transgender service members and their commanders anticipating action, on a day when Secretary Carter was scheduled to speak specifically about LGBT issues, he ignored them,” said Allyson Robinson, former Army officer and SPARTA Director of Policy. “This is a slap in the face to those service members and their units and leaders who support them.”
In the past few days, the New York Times editorial board has accompanied a feature on soldiers, an airman, and a Naval officer with a strong call for allowing transgender people to serve openly; an Army doctor with the rank of Major came out, reporting that her gender was officially changed in the Army’s medical system; and the American Medical Association approved a resolution that there is no medical justification for excluding transgender people from military service, calling the policy “outdated.”
“The Air Force’s recent clarification of policy was welcome, but signaled a need for leadership from the top to provide consistent, DOD-wide guidance,” continued Robinson. “At this point, there is so much confusion in the field that questions about individual service members are being floated from company commanders in the field all the way to the Pentagon. It’s long past time for a leadership on this issue. The policy must change.”
About SPARTA: Founded in 2013, SPARTA is an association of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people who currently serve or have served in the U.S. armed forces and their families. Our mission is to advocate for and support our actively serving LGBT service members, veterans, and their families. As a membership organization, SPARTA exists by and for the LGBT military community. The name SPARTA originated as an acronym for “Servicemembers, Partners, and Allies for Respect and Tolerance for All.”
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