US: Study to find out how transgender troops would affect military ‘readiness’

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An independent group that studies gender, sexuality and the military has announced that they are to research whether the inclusion of transgender members into the US armed forces would affect the “readiness” of its troops.

The Palm Center has announced that 16 scholars are to conduct 11 studies over three years on “on whether and how the US armed forces could include transgender troops without undermining readiness.”

Project director Indra Lusero said in a statement: “This academic research will inform an important public conversation by providing facts and evidence about transgender military service and gender expression in armed forces.

“Militaries around the world are updating their policies, and we are already conducting research in Canada, Britain and Australia to learn whether their trans-inclusive regulations have impacted readiness”.

While gay, lesbian and bisexual troops can now serve openly in the military, transgender troops are still left with no clear guidelines and can be discharged if their gender identity is discovered.

Nathaniel Frank, author of ‘Unfriendly Fire: How the Gay Ban Undermines the Military and Weakens America’ and a former scholar with the Palm Center, told BuzzFeed that open transgender service will become a reality if advocates think long term.

He said: “The education dimension for getting people to understand the importance of openly gay service in the military, getting the country and the military and the Congress in the right position was a long game.

“The same kind of long game in regard to transgender service has not yet been played”.

The study, which is set to cost approximately $1.35 million, will be funded by grants provided by Wells Fargo Bank and the Tawani Foundation.

According to its website, the foundation’s mission is “to enhance the awareness and understanding of the importance of the citizen soldier”.

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

In June, the Pentagon announced that benefits for the spouses of military personnel in same-sex relationships will begin from 1 September. However, they will not be able to receive housing or healthcare benefits, leading many to feel that the changes are inadequate.