The U.S. military has a long, complicated, and largely problematic history with the LGBTQ+ community. For a nation that espouses patriotism and service to country, this may seem surprising—after all, shouldn’t any citizen with the desire to serve be allowed to do so to the best of their abilities? You might think so, but the timeline of queer, and especially transgender, individuals fighting for their right to—well, fight—for their country tells a different story.
If you listened to our recent interview with Lieutenant Colonel Bree Fram, then you know a bit about what inspired her to work with SPART*A in support of fellow transgender service members. Since President Biden’s repeal of the Trump-era ban on transgender troops, the Department of Defense has enacted policies to support recruitment and retention of trans service members. While military policy may be improving, though, many transgender military members still face harassment and discrimination from within the ranks.
Despite the complex history between the U.S. military and its transgender service members, trans individuals continue to enlist in large numbers. In fact, a 2013 study published by the Harvard Kennedy School suggested that transgender Americans join the military at twice the rate of other citizens. In the same study, more than half of respondents reported harassment and nine percent reported physical assault while enlisted.
In his 2021 order, President Biden stated “that permitting transgender individuals to serve openly in the military was consistent with military readiness and with strength through diversity.” Undoubtedly, trans inclusion aligns with American values. But it’s important to also acknowledge the extent to which transgender soldiers actively improve the military through their service. In the interest of this goal, learn more about the stories of these five transgender military members:
Staff Sgt. Shane Ortega, the Indigenous and two-spirit co-founder of SPART*A.
Staff Sgt. Karen Kendra Holms, a former NCO Soldier of the Year with a deep passion for community service.
Major Ian Brown, a highly decorated member of the Army who served in both Iraq and Afghanistan.
Major Dana Delgardo, a retired soldier who served in the Gulf and Bosnian Wars.
Ashley Scott, who was injured in the line of duty during the Iraq War.
For more on the experiences of transgender service members and opportunities to provide support, visit the SPART*A website.