Last week, transgender military personnel from various countries allied with the United States convened a conference in Washington, DC to put pressure on the U.S. military to allow transgender soldiers to serve openly.
Organizers claim more than 15,000 transgender soldiers now serve in the active military or the reserves.
The Washington Post has taken up the cause in an article Monday featuring Captain Sage Fox, who spoke at the conference last week.
Fox is a transgender (male-to-female) woman. The Post reports that Fox was allowed briefly back into active duty after hormone therapy, which softened her features, and vocal training which gave her voice a higher pitch. Additionally, she had grown out her hair, and officials allowed her to use the women’s latrine and to be called “ma’am.” She was welcomed back but only for two weeks–then was placed in the inactive list.
The Post also tells the story of 29-year-old Captain Jacob Eleazar, who joined the military as a woman. Though he came out to his commanding officer as transgender, according to the Post he has been allowed to continue his military service in a dress and is supposed to be addressed by subordinates as “ma’am.” Eleazer trains new officers in the Kentucky National Guard, some of whom balked at calling Eleazer “ma’am.” Eleazer said their requests to call him “sir” were “shot down.”
“Hunter” is an anomaly among transgender service personnel. He is a transgender (female-to-male) man. According to experts, 90% of transgender military personnel are transgender women. After testosterone therapy, Hunter says he “presents very male” and that women flee when he enters the female latrine. He says he has had to attend formal occasions wearing dresses but that “You shouldn’t be afraid to see a man in a dress.”
Advocates for regularizing transgender service are buttressed by an independent commission report that says transgender persons would cause no harm to military readiness or effectiveness. The report also calls for the military to foot the bill for expensive transgender surgery, costs that range from $15,000 to $50,000. The average is $30,000, which would cost the U.S. taxpayers $225 million if only half of these servicemembers decided on surgery. Advocates insist a far smaller number would ever ask for taxpayer-funded surgery.