US: Trans activists hope new campaign group can help end transphobic military ban

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Several transgender campaigners have announced they are splitting away from America’s largest LGBT military service member advocacy group and forming a new organisation.

Service Members, Partners, Allies for Respect or Tolerance for All (SPART*A) is especially focused on advocating for open military service for transgender individuals.

The 2011 repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell for gay and lesbian service personnel never applied to transgender members.

The US Defence Department still refers to transgender people as having “psychosexual conditions.”

Yet research from the Williams Institute estimates there are about 140,000 transgender military veterans.

SPART*A has been created in the wake of problems at the OutServe-Service members Legal Defence Network.

It has seen a string of resignations over the past month. They started when it’s newly appointed executive director, transgender army veteran Allyson Robinson, was asked to resign.

She was the first transgender person to ever lead a national US LGBT rights organisation that does not have an explicit transgender focus.

Robinson resigned on 12 July, less than nine months after her appointment, following the announcement that OutServe-SLDN was bankrupt and would be closing its Washington DC offices.

Several OutServe-SLDN members speculated her departure could have been down to “anti-trans bias” – but others believe it was because of the organisation’s financial predicament.