Ban on Transgender People Serving in the Military
Dear William James Community:
A non-profit enterprise needs to be conservative about speaking out on political issues. A college of psychology needs to articulate issues that have an adverse impact upon mental health and human welfare.
The Rand Corporation estimates that there are between 1,000-6,000 transgender people who have volunteered to serve our country in the military. By all reports, these troops are serving with honor and distinction. When a policy decision brands them as unacceptable for service based solely upon their gender, we have a situation that is dangerous to all who are currently serving and one that is unjust and insulting to these patriots. Our diverse military is confused and endangered by such a dramatic and impulsive shift in policy. Moreover, our country’s capacity to provide a safe, affirming and inclusive environment for all people is set back and assaulted.
In response to the this recent policy announcement, Senator John McCain tweeted: “Any American who meets current medical & readiness standards should be allowed to continue serving,” In upcoming weeks, the Pentagon, government and military leaders will be grappling with the fallout of this decision.
We know that LGBT rights are the concern of all of us. When some people cannot feel safe to be open about who they are in their work and community, we all lose the opportunity to benefit from their talents. When our government actively discriminates against individuals based on misinformed ideas about race, gender, ethnicity, age, height, weight, religion or any of our personal characteristics, a hostile, dangerous, stifling environment is created that doesn’t just diminish our lives, it places the welfare of all of us in jeopardy.
Our country is a wonderful place for most to live, but we are still in the very early stages of inclusivity. Intellectually, we know that our diversity makes us very strong. Emotionally, we still find it challenging to embrace our differences. Psychology is all about appreciating individual difference, creating relationships and creating safe, inclusive, respectful and affirming environments for all to live, love and work. An action such as this recent decision about military service might require greater influence and power to change than we have at William James College, although some of us will try. However, this moment is another opportunity for our community to renew its commitment to support our LGBT brothers and sisters and to continue to find ways to engage each other with respect. I will leave it to you to identify the ways that each of you will do this and encourage all of our members to be open and helpful in this regard.