Click here to go to the Home Page Repeal of DADT for LGBs but not Ts - Inclusion - By The Reverend Irene Monroe - Editorial Board

Click to go to a Printer Friendly version of this article


One minute past the stroke of midnight on September 20th, the long awaited repeal of President Bill Clinton’s 1993 “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell (DADT)” policy was lifted.

BC Question: What will it take to bring Obama home?At precisely 12:01 a.m. EST, the popping of champagne bottles began, along with cheers and tears celebrating the end of a repressive era that prohibited LGBTQ servicemembers from honestly and openly serving in the military.

But the celebration was bittersweet.

While our lesbian, gay and bisexual (LGB) servicemembers now have a policy in place to protect them from discrimination, the repeal of DADT doesn’t protect our transgender servicemembers.

“While we are happy to see the end of ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,’ we are troubled that the military still expels some members of our community simply because of who they are. Transgender people continue to serve our country honorably, and our country needs to do the same for transgender service members by reexamining this outdated ban,” Mara Keisling, executive director of the National Center for Transgender Equality, stated in a press release weeks before the DADT’s repeal.

One of the reasons for transphobia in the military is its rigid adherence to antiquated notions of masculinity, manhood, and gender roles. The military has a binary view of gender, and unfortunately, with that perspective, transgender servicemembers as deemed medically and mentally unfit because of Gender Identity Disorder.

Along with the military’s binary view of gender, its transphobia is institutionally maintained by its medical and conduct regulations. For example, the medical regulation for all enlistees is a physical examination. If an enlistee has had or is thinking about having genital surgery, that decision or outward expression of thought can easily become grounds for disqualification. But that’s not the end of the military’s egregious display of transphobia. If an enlistee has not had genital surgery or isn’t thinking about genital surgery, but identities as transgender, that too is grounds for disqualification. The military deems the enlistee as having a mental health condition.

While it is easy to disclose the myriad ways in which the military is egregiously transphobic, perhaps the same disclosure needs to be done to us - the LGBQ population and our organizations.

So the question that needs to be put on the table is this: Why is it, in another historical civil rights moment won, ending discrimination for all in the LGBTQ community, our transgender population, once again, is left out? Did we not learn our shameful lessons after the debacle of the 2007 Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) fallout?

During an entire campaign to win an inclusive ENDA, we didn’t learn. And what was expected to be an historic vote on HR 2015, the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, or ENDA, in the House, the LGBTQ community got a version of ENDA that did not include gender identity.

Sadly, however, we have done it again with the repeal of DADT. Our LGBQ civil rights organizations’, in spite of their best efforts to explain how and/or why transgender Americans are, once again, excluded from this historical landmark decision, realize this is not their endpoint on this issue, but rather it begins new, trans-focused organizing strategies that will redouble their efforts to do more.

“Today we’re one step closer to full equality, but we’re not there yet. This victory only strengthens our resolve to continue our work toward open transgender military service. And with your help, the Task Force will continue to push for that inclusion.” Rea Carey, Executive Director of National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, stated in a press release. “We’re mobilizing grassroots efforts to help pass trans-inclusive nondiscrimination laws in cities across the nation;… The DADT repeal serves to remind us that, with a lot of hard work, we’re getting closer but we can’t let up until we get there.”

Here in Boston, LGBTQ activists and our allies are not letting up.

At the steps of the State House on the first evening of the repeal of DADT demonstrators staged a protest to draw attention to the fact that transgender Americans are still unable to serve openly in the military. “I’m out here supporting my trans and les (lesbian) homies who are still DL (on the down low) in the Army because I know what it feels like to be dissed at home, church, Army, and the gay community,” Jamilla Davis, an African American lesbian from Roxbury told me.

African American lesbians have been discharged at three times the rate at which they serve, and Davis knows this from first-hand experience. To date, more than 13,500 LGBTQ servicemembers have been discharged under DADT. I would like to say that with the repeal of DADT the number of our servicemembers being discharged will stop. But it won’t. Our transgender servicemembers were not included. Editorial Board member, the Rev. Irene Monroe, is a religion columnist, theologian, and public speaker. She is the Coordinator of the African-American Roundtable of the Center for Lesbian and Gay Studies in Religion and Ministry (CLGS) at the Pacific School of Religion. A native of Brooklyn, Rev. Monroe is a graduate from Wellesley College and Union Theological Seminary at Columbia University, and served as a pastor at an African-American church before coming to Harvard Divinity School for her doctorate as a Ford Fellow. She was recently named to MSNBC’s list of 10 Black Women You Should Know. Reverend Monroe is the author of Let Your Light Shine Like a Rainbow Always: Meditations on Bible Prayers for Not’So’Everyday Moments. As an African-American feminist theologian, she speaks for a sector of society that is frequently invisible. Her website is Click here to contact the Rev. Monroe.

Click to go to a Printer Friendly version of this article
Click here to go to a menu of the Contents of this Issue

e-Mail re-print notice
If you send us an emaill message we may publish all or part of it, unless you tell us it is not for publication. You may also request that we withhold your name.

Thank you very much for your readership.

Sept 22, 2011 - Issue 442
is published every Thursday
Est. April 5, 2002
Executive Editor:
David A. Love, JD
Managing Editor:
Nancy Littlefield, MBA
Peter Gamble
Road Scholar - the world leader in educational travel for adults. Top ten travel destinations for African-Americans. Fascinating history, welcoming locals, astounding sights, hidden gems, mouth-watering food or all of the above - our list of the world’s top ten "must-see" learning destinations for African-Americans has a little something for everyone.