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US Navy transgender sailor discharged for transitioning at work

A US navy communications specialist has spoken out to The Washington Post about being discharged for transitioning to being male – showing that part of the LGBTI community is still legally barred from serving in the US Armed Forces
Former US Surgeon General Joycelyn Elders
Photo by National Institutes of Health

Transgender sailor Landon Wilsonhas spoken out about being forcefully discharged by the US Navy after superiors discovered he had transitioned to be a male – showing that some LGBTI people still face legal discrimination in the US Armed Forces past the end of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell.

The US Defense Department still retains a policy that was set when being transgender was viewed as a form of mental illness and classes it as a ‘paraphilia.’

As a result those who transition at work are still banned from serving and are discharged for what the Department deems health reasons.

Wilson told The Washington Post about how he had been pulled out of monitoring a Special Operations mission by a superior just after 2am on 7 December last year.

He was then grilled by a segeant major who had discovered that he had enlisted as a woman but deployed to Afghanistan as a man.

‘This Navy record says female, but this paper says male,’ Wilson says the sergeant major said to him, before asking, ‘So, what are you?’

Knowing the potential price, but not wanting to lie to a superior officer, Wilson said he replied, ‘I am male.’

As a result he was sacked by the Navy.

The Obama Administration repealed the so-called Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell ban on openly gay and lesbian personnel serving in the US Armed Forces in 2011 but that did not change Department of Defense policy covering other LGBTI people.

The Palm Center, a public policy group focusing on gender, sexuality and the military, released a report in March arguing that the US military could make a smooth transition to allowing openly transgender personnel to serve – finding there was no medical basis in the current policy.

‘Medical regulations requiring the discharge of transgender personnel are inconsistent with how the military regulates all other medical and psychological conditions and transgender-related conditions appear to be the only gender-related conditions that require discharge irrespective of fitness for duty,’ the report found, concluding, ‘there is no compelling medical reason for the ban [on transgender personnel].

The report was the work of a study co-chaired by former US Surgeon General Joycelyn Elders (pictured) - who was in that role during the Clinton Administration when Don't Ask, Don't Tell was put in place.

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