Pentagon recognizes transgender status of veterans.
(From UK Daily Mail article by Helen Pow, 16 MAY 2013.)
The Pentagon for the first time has officially recognized transgender service members in a significant step being hailed by the LGBT community.
The acknowledgement came in the form of a letter to veteran and transgender activist Autumn Sandeen confirming that the Navy had updated its records to show she is a woman.
While still a long way from open transgender service in the military, OutServe-SLDN, an organization for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender service members and their families labeled the move ‘symbolic.’
The letter from the Navy official, dated May 2, read: ‘Per your request the Defense Enrollment Eligibility Reporting System (DEERS) has been updated to show your gender as female effective April 12, 2013.’
Sandeen’s military identification card now reflects the change.
'The fact that a process exists [to change the gender listed] indicates that there are people in the Department of Defense who are aware of the needs of transgender retirees and who are working to see those needs met,' OutServe-SLDN executive director Allyson Robinson told BuzzFeed.
'And, in that sense, the significance of this symbolic act for our broader work and for our goal of open service becomes I think a little bit more apparent.'
Gay, lesbian and bisexual service members have been able to serve openly in the military since September 2011, however if transgender people try to do the same they continue to be discharged, according to Buzzfeed.
Sandeen said she went to the Pentagon to change her gender status after successfully changing to a woman in records in California, the Veterans Administration, the state department and the social security office.
'I had heard that it could be done; I had never heard of anybody actually doing it,' Sandeen said.
So she submitted all the documentation and in May was thrilled to hear the change had been made, marking a step, she believes, towards open service for transgender people.
'By showing you can actually change your gender marker with the Department of Defense… then it's another step toward figuring out a way to have open service for trans people,' she said.
'That's my end and I think this is going to be a step to get there.'
Robinson said it was the first time in the organization’s knowledge that the Department of Defense has recognized and changed the gender of anyone affiliated, in a uniformed capacity, to the military.
'That alone makes it very significant, not just for this veteran herself, but for likely thousands of others who can have these corrections made to their DEERS documents,' Robinson said.
But she called for the Pentagon to agree to gender changes on historical documents including the DD-Form-214 - the Certificate of Release or Discharge from Active Duty.
'I would say that it is a very early and very small step in a long process to achieve our goals here,' Robinson told Buzzfeed. 'But, it is significant, as the earliest steps always are, because it reflects a shift, even if it is a small one, in the way that transgender people are viewed within the institution of the United States military.'
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