Still Serving in Silence: Transgender Service Members and Veterans in the National Transgender Discrimination Survey
By Jody L. Herman, Jack Harrison-Quintana
While transgender people serve in the military at a rate double the general population, they nonetheless face discrimination during and after service. Despite the repeal of ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,’ this study highlights the ongoing discrimination faced by transgender people who have served in the military. For example, nine percent of those who served reported that they were discharged on account of being transgender or gender non-conforming. While congressional legislation does not prohibit transgender people from military service, the military’s medical code lays out regulations that can prevent transgender people from joining the military or serving openly. In this study, some transgender service members reported not serving openly for fear of discharge or verbal, physical, and sexual abuse.
The study utilized data collected through the National Transgender Discrimination Survey (NTDS), which was conducted by the National Center for Transgender Equality and the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force. 6,456 transgender and gender non-conforming people in the United States reported on their experiences of discrimination and abuse at work, at home, in school, and in the public sphere, amassing the largest transgender survey sample to date. The survey also asked respondents about their military service, whether they had been discharged due to anti-transgender bias, and their ability to update military discharge records.
*Article originally published in the LGBTQ Public Policy Journal at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University