WASHINGTON, D.C., May 15th — Yesterday Navy spokeswoman Lt. Brittany Stephens told CNN "The acting Secretary of the Navy has approved a specific request for exemption related to military service by transgender persons and persons with gender dysphoria," adding "this service member requested a waiver to serve in their preferred gender, to include obtaining a gender marker change in (the Defense Enrollment Eligibility Reporting System) and being allowed to adhere to standards associated with their preferred gender, such as uniforms and grooming."
SPART*A celebrates this individual victory and is thrilled for this service member who will undoubtedly be a more effective Sailor and even more of an asset to the United States following this achievement. SPART*A President Emma Shinn said "This is great news and we are ecstatic both for the Sailor and the breach of the waiver logjam. I am hopeful that this is the first of many; but the fight is far from over."
Jennifer Levi, Director of the Transgender Rights Project at GLBTQ Advocates & Defenders said "The ban has been in place for over a year and this is the first waiver to be granted. While we are relieved that our client, a highly qualified Naval officer, will be able to continue her service, there are other equally qualified transgender service members who have sought waivers and are still in limbo, despite being perfectly fit to serve. Dedicated military service members shouldn't have to bring a lawsuit to be able to continue doing their job."
Shannon Minter, Legal Director of the National Center for Lesbian Rights added "There is no basis for treating transgender service members differently by requiring them to seek a waiver that no one else has to obtain in order to continue to serve. While we are relieved for our client, requiring transgender service members to jump through this discriminatory hoop makes no sense and only underscores the irrationality of the ban. Being transgender has nothing to do with a person’s fitness to serve, and transgender individuals should be held to the same standards as other service members.”
Time will tell if more waivers get approved for the amazing trans individuals who currently wear or hope to wear our Nation’s uniform. If the template has been established, we expect that many more will be granted because there is no factual basis for denial. We firmly believe that open service should be policy rather than the exception to policy it currently is. Service members should not have to fight the bureaucracy for their ability to be the best Soldier, Sailor, Airmen, Marine, Coast Guardsman, or Space Professional.
SPART*A's over 1,000 members will continue to be visible, do our jobs with utmost professionalism, and serve this nation because we are capable, willing, and ready.
SPART*A encourages any trans service members with questions to contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org