HISTORIC: Secretary Carter Announces End To Transgender Military Service Ban

HISTORIC: Secretary Carter Announces End To Transgender Military Service Ban

Today at the Pentagon, Defense Secretary Ash Carter announced a much anticipated end to the ban on open service by transgender service members. The announcement comes more than a year after Secretary Carter promised that the Department of Defense (DoD) would update the outdated regulations which prevent open service by transgender service members and the launch of a working group to assess the impact of the change and work out the details. “Words cannot express how much this announcement means to so many of our transgender service members and their families — brave men and women who have proudly served our nation in silence for far too long,” said AMPA President Ashley Broadway-Mack. “We are incredibly grateful to Secretary Carter for bringing this promise to fruition. While we still have progress to make, today is truly historic and our military families will be stronger as a result of these critically important and long overdue changes.” “This historic change means that I can finally serve openly and proudly as who I am — a soldier who loves my country and just happens to be transgender,” said AMPA member Nick Melvin, who is currently stationed in Hawaii. “A huge weight has been lifted off of my shoulder. I can continue serving my nation and support my family, which means the world!” With the announcement today, Secretary Carter said, “This is the right thing to do for our people and for the force. We’re talking about talented Americans who are serving with distinction or who want the opportunity to serve. We can’t allow barriers unrelated to a person’s qualifications prevent us from recruiting and retaining...
BREAKING: Pentagon To Announce End to Transgender Military Ban on July 1st

BREAKING: Pentagon To Announce End to Transgender Military Ban on July 1st

Today, the American Military Partner Association (AMPA), the nation’s largest organization of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) military families, praised the news that the Pentagon is expected to make history on July 1st by announcing the much anticipated end to the transgender military ban. “Our transgender service members and their families are breathing a huge sigh of relief,” said AMPA President Ashley Broadway-Mack. “Soon, anyone who is qualified will finally be able to serve our great nation, regardless of their gender identity. We are eagerly anticipating the details of this historic announcement, and we are incredibly grateful for the leadership Secretary Carter has shown in getting us to this critically important point for our military families.” In July of last year, Secretary Carter first announced that the DoD would finally update the outdated regulations that prevent open service by transgender service members and would take six months to assess the impact of the change and work out the details. The working group started with the presumption that “transgender persons can serve openly without adverse impact on military effectiveness and readiness, unless and except where objective, practical impediments are identified.” In June of 2015, the American Medical Association approved a resolution saying there is “no medically valid reason to exclude transgender individuals from service in the U.S. military.” In March of 2015, AMPA launched an unprecedented joint report with the Transgender American Veterans Association (TAVA) highlighting the tremendous harm the outdated regulations inflict on military families. The report notes, “The outdated regulations serve no purpose and only dehumanize and prevent qualified and capable individuals from enlisting and serving. The ban perpetuates trauma to all those involved, both the service member...
Dealing with Trauma: How the Orlando Massacre Can Impact Mental Health and How to Help

Dealing with Trauma: How the Orlando Massacre Can Impact Mental Health and How to Help

June is Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) Awareness Month. It’s also LGBT Pride Month. When I was invited to write a PTSD awareness blog for AMPA, I didn’t think I’d be talking about both PTSD and Pride. And then the Orlando massacre happened. Twelve hours after sending in my RSVP to a wedding for friends who are finally able to get married in their home state of Texas, I awoke to news of the shooting at Pulse, a gay night club in Orlando. So many lives, so brutally cut short; their loved ones left with gaping voids that such loss creates. For the survivors of that night, an experience of hatred so pitiless and concrete. No doubt the lives of all those involved or in some way impacted by the shooting will be affected – and likely for many years to come. However, in what seemed like minutes after I learned of the tragedy, I started to see headlines speculating on the potential for PTSD to develop in survivors and first responders. I’d like to take a few minutes to highlight some pertinent information for our community regarding responses to events like the Pulse/Orlando shooting. PTSD — In Plain English Posttraumatic Stress Disorder or PTSD belongs to a unique category of disorders in which exposure to a traumatic or stressful event is required for diagnosis. Many Americans immediately associate PTSD with combat, however it is not exclusively a combat-veteran’s disorder. PTSD can develop in just about anyone whose been exposed to or witnessed a situation that included actual or threatened harm, violence or injury (including death). In the immediate aftermath, survivors...
Department of Defense Celebrates LGBT Pride Month at Pentagon

Department of Defense Celebrates LGBT Pride Month at Pentagon

Today, the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) celebrated lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) Pride Month at a #DoDPride celebration held at the Pentagon. “Today’s event was an incredibly important celebration of diversity and the strength that it brings to our nation’s Armed Forces,” said AMPA President Ashley Broadway-Mack, who attended the event with other AMPA military families. “But while it was a time to celebrate the tremendous progress we’ve made within the Department of Defense, it was also a stark reminder of the work we still have to accomplish for full LGBT equality in the military. The continued delay in lifting the ban on open service for transgender service members is frustrating and deeply disappointing for so many of our families. It’s been almost a year since Secretary Carter made the historic announcement that the Pentagon would lift the ban, yet transgender service members and their families are still in limbo. These heroes have earned the right to be able to serve as their authentic selves, and we must ensure that happens.” The DoD first started observing June as LGBT Pride Month in 2012, following the successful repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” (DADT). At this year’s event, Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus gave remarks, and Under Secretary of the U.S. Army Patrick Murphy and Admiral Mike Mullen were honored for their leadership in the fight for LGBT equality in the military. The families of AMPA were also proud to provide the cake for this year’s event. Secretary Carter also released a statement this year in celebration of LGBT Pride Month, saying, “Throughout our history, brave LGBT soldiers, sailors,...
BREAKING: VA Proposes Rule Change to Lift Ban on Gender Confirmation Surgery for Transgender Veterans

BREAKING: VA Proposes Rule Change to Lift Ban on Gender Confirmation Surgery for Transgender Veterans

Today, the American Military Partner Association praised the news that the U.S. Department of Veterans (VA) is proposing a rule change to lift its outdated ban on gender confirmation surgery for transgender veterans. As reported by TIME, “The V.A.’s proposed rule would follow in the footsteps of a similar change Medicare made in 2014, and would align the V.A. with the latest research on treatment options for transgender people, which has evolved since the V.A.’s ban was instituted more than two decades ago.” “This is incredibly welcome news for so many transgender veterans and their families,” said AMPA President Ashley Broadway-Mack. “So many veterans rely on the VA for important medical care that they have earned serving our nation, including transgender veterans. Gender confirmation surgery is often a critically important and medically necessary treatment for transgender veterans, and lifting this ban is long overdue.” The proposed rule change states in part, “Due to the prior limited knowledge about both gender dysphoria and effective transition-related procedures, surgical procedures in particular were not deemed to be medically necessary. However, increased understanding of both gender dysphoria and surgical techniques in this area have improved significantly, and surgical procedures are now widely accepted in the medical community as medically necessary treatment for gender dysphoria. Additionally, recent medical research shows that gender dysphoria is a serious condition that has had severe medical consequences for certain patients if transition-related surgeries and procedures are not provided. In light of these medical advances and recent research, VA would revise its regulation to remove the prohibition on medical services that are considered gender alterations. In this way, medical decisions would...
Celebrating LGBT Pride Month in the Military Community

Celebrating LGBT Pride Month in the Military Community

Every June, LGBT Pride Month is a time to celebrate our diversity and remember historical moments in our fight for full equality.  It’s a time to remember the tipping points in the LGBT equal rights movement, like the 1969 Stonewall Riots, or the fall of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” It’s also a time to honor leaders such as Harvey Milk, one of the first openly gay people elected to public office, and Edie Windsor, the plaintiff in the landmark Supreme Court case who successfully overturned a section of the so-called Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) that prevented the federal government from recognizing same-sex marriages. There are countless other individuals and events that have been catalysts for the LGBT equal rights movement, and in June, we celebrate them all. For LGBT servicemembers and families, June serves as a month in which we celebrate the incredible progress we’ve made on our path to full equality in the military. Unfortunately there is a long history of discrimination against LGBT people in the military, and it was not until Bill Clinton’s presidential campaign that acceptance of gay and lesbian servicemembers was addressed. President Clinton had pledged to end the ban on gay and lesbian service members, however, the unsuccessful attempt resulted in the passage by Congress of the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” (DADT) law. From 1993 to 2011, gay, lesbian, and bisexual troops were prevented from serving openly under DADT, inflicting profound damage on our servicemembers and their families. Over 12,000 servicemembers were discharged under DADT alone (that doesn’t even include those who were discharged because of their orientation before DADT) and most deemed dishonorable. Thanks to the leadership...