posted at 19:50
Author Name: Jo Biddle
Transgender troops seek end to US military taboo
"It's quite a common pathway for people who are gender conflicted, trying to fix what we see is wrong with us, and see the military as the way of doing that," Major Harding said. In the United States, despite the 2011 repeal of the divisive "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" law, which banned gays from serving openly, there is little talk of extending the same rights to transgender people. There are an estimated 15,500 transgender people believed to be serving in the US armed forces under the current rules, if they are discovered the military is required to dismiss them. As yet no review is underway, and any move to incorporate transgender people openly into the ranks is likely to stir controversy. "I've lost count of the number of times it would have been so easy to drive into that oncoming truck," Harding told the audience at the event organized by the American Civil Liberties Union, noting that 80 percent of transgender people have contemplated suicide, and some 40 percent have tried it. Key to ensuring that transgender people can be embraced by the army is education, and working so those who undertake the difficult decision can do so with dignity and security. "Without doubt, the more mature our inclusive policies become, the better our operational delivery becomes, because we have got people who are being themselves, they are being authentic in the workplace, without having to have personal challenges alongside that," said Squadron Leader Sarah Maskell, who promotes equality and diversity in the British Royal Air Force. "What my organization gave me, and what we are doing here, is primarily about investing in the most important thing that an organization has: its people."

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