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Three years ago, the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” was met with cheers of joy from human rights and LGBTQ activists. Despite this major victory for these groups, both knew that more work needed to be done. This week, a new report may be the first public sign that “more” is coming.

The Palm Center, a think tank based at San Francisco State University’s political science department released the Report of the Planning Commission on Transgender Military Service. Earlier this year, both the Secretary of Defense and the White House expressed an openness to reviewing the rules that govern service by trans* folks. These announcements came shortly after the Transgender Military Service Commission concluded there was a “need for more careful deliberation in this area.” The report, therefore, takes into account a wide range of factors related to how such a policy change would be formulated and implemented as well as provides guidance around doing so. To achieve this goal, the Center:

  • Identified seven core values to guide their work. The first of these is preserving military readiness.
  • Analyzed the policies and regulation of foreign military forces that allow trans* individuals to serve openly.
  • Interviewed policy members and service members in these countries.
  • Consulted literature on organizational change.
  • Referred to recommendations and guidance written for the repeal of DADT and the subsequent integration of LGB individuals into active service without affecting readiness.

The report is refreshingly frank in its reporting of current military regulations, particularly those related to the classifying transsexualism as a health disorder. It is equally realistic in examining the many areas where the military would have to make changes in order to streamline the inclusion of openly trans* individuals.

The report’s findings include the following:

  1. Only minor regulatory revisions would be required to make this change. These include changing the military healthcare rule banning treatment related to gender identity as well as a variety of rules that either disqualify trans* individuals or deem them unfit for service.
  2. Numerous administrative issues would need to be addressed. These range from allowing gender marker changes to ensuring grooming and fitness standards, uniforms, housing, and bathrooms comply with the individuals’ gender identity.
  3. A strong training program emphasizing professionalism should be made available to service members at all levels prior to implementation of any policy changes. The report provides specific examples for groups like leaders, medical personnel, etc.
  4. Strong leadership is essential to smooth implementation.
  5. The US will likely join 18 other countries that allow trans* individuals to serve others. The policy change is both “administratively feasible and neither excessively complex nor burdensome.”

The authors show a deep respect for the military’s history and core values as well as the human rights of the members who serve. They weave together a narrative showing that a historically conservative institution does not have to abandon its family values in order to be inclusive of groups that formerly were excluded. Ultimately, they conclude:

The decision to allow transgender personnel to serve in the military reflects the core values and principles that all military personnel should serve with honor and integrity; all persons capable of serving their country should be allowed to do so unless there is a compelling reason for prohibiting their service; and the military should not needlessly separate personnel who are willing and able to serve.

Since the report’s release, three retired generals have expressed their support of this policy change, a sign that the time may be right to begin taking the necessary steps to bring this report’s conclusion into reality.

Other Sexual Health News This Week

Mount Holyoke Changed Its Official Policy on Admitting Transgender Studnets (Buzzfeed)

Former Gov. Huntsman: Same-Sex Marriage is ‘Inevitable’ (Desert News)

Emerson Announces New Initiatives to Combat Sexual Assault, Including Survey of Students (Boston Globe)

Another Symptom of the Sandusky case: Reports of Educator Sexual Abuse in Pa. Skyrocket (

Despite High HIV Rates, Georgia Schools Ignoring LGBT Sex Ed (WABE)

Duke U. Adds Voluntary Admissions Question on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity (Inside Higher Ed)

Important Dates

The following conference proposals are due in September. Click on each title for more information and to submit.

Southern College Health Association Conference 2015, September 15

American College Health Association 2015 Annual Meeting, September 15

Wyoming Sexual Assault Summit XIV: Start by Believing, September 19

The following conferences take place in September. Click on each title for more information and to register.

Catalyst Con, September 11-14, Los Angeles, CA Say hi to staff writer Kait Scalisi who is presenting on two panels: “Sex, Dating, Kink, and the ‘C’ Word,” and “How to Be a Sex-Positive Warrior in Public Health.”

Widener University’s Sexuality, Intimacy, & Aging Conference, September 19-20, Chester, PA Check out Kait’s session, “Sexual Health and Pleasure in Cancer Survivorship.”

Reproductive Health 2014, September 18-20, Charlotte, NC