A Look at Newer Pride in the US Military

Lily Rashkind, Staff Writer

Throughout the bulk of American History, LGBTQIA+ discrimination has been a prevalent issue regarding the U.S. Military. Over the past four years, the former president, Donald Trump reinstated the transgender military ban, which proved to be incredibly controversial, and discriminatory. LGBTQIA+ discrimination in the U.S. Military has been a prominent issue in the past and continues to be to this day, and beyond the former president. Although the current president, Joe Biden, reversed the transgender military ban, discrimination and hatred continue to be an issue within the Military. The direction that Biden seems to be taking the US Military has brought about new hope to many members and allies of the LGBTQIA+ community who plan to serve and defend the United States. One person who specifically opened up about the newfound hope the Biden Administrations’ lifting of the transgender military ban is Paulo Batista, a transgender man hoping to join the U.S. Military following the election of Biden. In a recent CNN headline article highlighting Joe Biden’s signing of the reversal of the transgender military ban, Paulo Batista shared his newfound hope and intention to serve in the U.S. military. He communicated the importance of the Biden administration’s action, and how in 2016, he had to choose whether or not to truly express himself or to keep quiet in order to fight for his country. When wondering how those around me have interpreted the newfound hope the Biden administration is bringing, it is clear that the reversal of the transgender military ban is greatly important to young people. Peri Mulvaney ‘23 says, “It’s inspiring to see how allies and members of the LGBTQIA+ community are not forced to hide their sexual or gender identities, as a result of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”. People should not have to choose between openly expressing themselves, and fighting for their countries.“ 

However, despite the Biden administration’s efforts to reverse the negative effects of the former president’s past military ban, LGBTQIA+ and gender discrimination in the U.S. military are still vital issues that many Americans continue to face. Understanding the history behind LGBTQIA+ discrimination in the United States military is crucial to comprehend why there is still a long way to go. The earliest history the United States military has of LGBTQIA+ discrimination is throughout the Korean and Vietnam war. During World War II, The Korean War, and the Vietnam War, military leaders considered people who identified as part of the LGBTQIA+ community to have a mental defect that barred them from serving. While this was a huge setback for those who are part of the LGBTQIA+ community, and allies at the time, unfortunately, LGBTQIA+ discrimination continued to be prevalent into the 21st Century and to this day. In 1982, the U.S. military placed a ban on homosexuality in the United States Military, stating that homosexuality was incompatible with serving in the Military. Several years later, President Bill Clinton claimed that he would eliminate discrimination in the Military based on gender identity and sexual orientation. Under a policy brought about in 1993, entitled the DOD policy (Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell) those who served in the United States Military would be forced to hide their sexual orientation while training or in service. From 1993 until 2010, the DOD policy was in full effect, meaning that those in the Military could not reveal their sexual orientation, although queer men and women were still officially barred from service. However, in 2010, the House and Senate voted to overturn this discriminatory policy, and President Barrack Obama signed the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell Repeal Act into law on December 22, 2010. From then on, Military personnel could be openly gay without fear of discharge. While strides were being made to allow openly gay Military personnel to serve without fear of discharge, the ban that was placed on transgender Military personnel had yet to be lifted until July 1, 2016, by President Barrack Obama. Unfortunately, the DOD reversed the changes under the Trump Administration effectively barring transgender Military Personnel from the Military.

While the rich history surrounding inclusion, and discrimination against members of the LGBTQIA+ community is heartbreaking and simply unjust, the United States and Biden Administration’s new reversal on the ban on transgender Military Personnel, is a positive stride in the right direction, in order to gain equal protection, opportunity, and acceptance for openly gay and transgender individuals, hoping to fight for the United States Military.