Tag: Removal

Removal of Transgender Military Ban Is a Victory for Trans People and Their Families and Children

Removal of Transgender Military Ban Is a Victory for Trans

President Biden’s executive order yesterday ending the ban on transgender people serving in the military is not only a victory for the many trans people in uniform, but also for the children and families they support.

Jennifer and Deborah Peace and their children - Credit: TransMilitary

Jennifer and Deborah Peace and their children – Credit: TransMilitary

The premise of the executive order is very simple: “All Americans who are qualified to serve in the Armed Forces of the United States should be able to serve.” Biden added, “The All-Volunteer Force thrives when it is composed of diverse Americans who can meet the rigorous standards for military service, and an inclusive military strengthens our national security.”

For the more than 15,000 transgender people currently serving, that’s an acknowledgment of equality. For those who are parents, it means they do not have to fear losing their jobs and being unable to feed and house their children. The U.S. military is the country’s largest employer of transgender people, according to the 2018 documentary TransMilitary. The unemployment rate for trans people is three times higher than the national average, and over one quarter (27 percent) of trans people who held or applied for a job reported being fired, not hired, or denied a promotion due to their gender identity, per the National Center for Transgender Equality‘s latest U.S. Transgender Survey. (The survey covers 2016-17, but I can’t imagine the number improved during the last four years.)

As Deborah Peace said in Transmilitary about her spouse Jennifer Peace, a captain in the U.S. Army and a trans woman, “She was the breadwinner of the family.” The Peaces have three children.

The removal of the ban will also, I imagine, positively impact service members and their spouses who are not trans themselves, but are raising transgender or gender-creative children. Consider: The Department of Defense Child Development Virtual Lab School (VLS), an online professional development system for the 33,000 child- and youth-care professionals working with children of military families on bases around the world, in 2018 launched a course on “Creating Gender Safe Spaces.” Sarah Lang, associate director of research and professional development at VLS, told me in an interview, “Part of the reason we developed this course was that people working in military childcare saw gender-expansive kids and reached out to us. We want to be supportive of children and families with gender-expansive or LGBT members, and to arm staff with tools to navigate conversations with other families.” Clearly, then, there were enough of these families that such a program was worth creating. Yet children are less likely to thrive in an environment that condemns their identities. Transgender people serving openly (and perhaps occasionally visiting on-base classrooms) may give these children important role models.

Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III has also clarified that the new policy applies not only to transgender people currently serving, but also to those wishing to enlist. He noted, too:

The United States Armed Forces are in the business of defending our fellow citizens from our enemies, foreign and domestic. I believe we accomplish that mission more effectively when we represent all our fellow citizens. I also believe we should avail ourselves of the best possible talent in our population, regardless of gender identity. We would be rendering ourselves less fit to the task if we excluded from our ranks people who meet our standards and who have the skills and the devotion to serve in uniform.

This is the right thing to do. It is also the smart thing to do.

Darn right.

As we move forward, however, let us not forget how we got here. TransMilitary, which profiles not only the Peace family, but also several other transgender service members, is available on several of the major streaming services. I encourage you to watch. It’s a reminder that not only did transgender service members and their families feel the negative impact of the ban, but that many put their careers on the line by sharing their stories and speaking out against it. It is in large part because of their efforts, along with research (and more research) and the work of many other advocates, that Biden put pen to paper and signed yesterday’s order, affirming transgender people’s right to serve their country on equal terms.

Corporal Laila Villanueva, Captain Jennifer Peace, and Senior Airman Logan Ireland - Credit: TransMilitary

Corporal Laila Villanueva, Captain Jennifer Peace, and Senior Airman Logan Ireland – Credit: TransMilitary

If reading’s more your thing, check out the 2019 NPR profile of U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Bree “B” Fram, her spouse Peg, and their two kids; this piece by Alli Alexander, an Army veteran, mother, and now military spouse, about her husband’s transition while in the Army; or this InStyle profile of Capt. Peace.

This executive order is personal for me—I have a friend who is a transgender man, a parent, and a serving member of the Armed Forces. I’m delighted for him and his family, and for all transgender service members. Thanks to them for their service to us all.

Library Board to Discuss Removal of LGBTQ Books from Children’s Section

Library Board to Discuss Removal of LGBTQ Books from Children's

A group of patrons has asked for LGBTQ-inclusive children’s books to be removed from the children’s section of a Louisiana public library and made available for checkout only by adults. The library board is set to discuss the matter this afternoon.

Books challenged in Lincoln Parish Library children's section

The Ruston Leader in Ruston, Louisiana, reported Friday that according to Lincoln Parish Library Director Vivian McCain, she and members of the library’s Board of Control in mid-November “began receiving emails from more than a dozen patrons, all with identical verbiage, asking that ‘LGBTQ items’ be removed from the shelves and displays in the children’s department.”

Among the books targeted for removal, according to the paper, are My Two Moms and My Two Dads by Claudia Harrington; Real Sisters Pretend, by Megan Dowd Lambert; The Great Big Book of Families, by Mary Hoffman; Jazz Jennings: Voice for LGBTQ Youth, by Ellen Rodger; Snapdragon, by Kat Leyh; the Wings of Fire series by Tui T. Sutherland, and George and Rick

by Alex Gino. Other books would also be impacted, but were checked out at the time the paper did its reporting and photographs.

A few board members met to discuss the complaints and asked McCain to remove the books, which she allowed, reported the paper. It added that McCain said, “This goes against every grain in my body as a public librarian.”

McCain told local news station KNOE yesterday that the books had been chosen for the library’s collection according to “stringent criteria,” and that they were removed after the complaints in order to make sure they did meet the criteria. My interpretation is that she was willing to subject them to this extra scrutiny knowing that they are fine, but that she is not in favor of permanently removing them from the children’s section. She spoke with KNOE about the stigma that restricting the books puts on patrons, particularly children, who want to check them out.

The board has now reviewed the books, KNOE reported, and is expected to recommend at a meeting today at 4:00 p.m. CT, that they be placed back on the shelves. KNOE said McCain is “thrilled.”

The library is in fact now closed to the public until December 14 because a staff member has tested positive for COVID-19, but the meeting is as of this writing, still proceeding.

Unfortunately for the library, too, the town on Saturday voted down the property tax that funds most of its budget. The Ruston Leader said that this vote had been mentioned in the November letters challenging the LGBTQ books; it is unclear if the challenges impacted the vote.

LGBTQ-inclusive kids’ books are among those most often targeted for removal or restriction, as the American Library Association’s Top 100 Most Banned and Challenged Books of the Past Decade list shows. Authors of such books also face attempts to stop them from giving book talks in schools or libraries, whether in-person or virtual. Once books about LGBTQ people and those with LGBTQ parents are restricted in libraries and/or schools, what’s next? Banning a transgender parent from taking their kids to a library book reading? Telling a kid during show-and-tell that they can’t talk about taking a family vacation with their two moms?

And yes, it’s a parent’s choice about what to teach our kids and expose them to, though our ability to control that declines rapidly as our children grow, in my experience. As I wrote way back in 2007 (in relation to attempted censorship in a school curriculum), “At some, if not many, points in my child’s education, the curriculum will contain something that contradicts a viewpoint I hold. The solution is not to ban it from being taught, but rather for me to be involved enough—with both the school and my son—that I can use the occasions as opportunities to teach him what I do believe. Wanting to ban something from the curriculum is an admission that I have little faith in my own teaching abilities and influence over my child.” (Though again, that influence tends to decline as our kids reach adulthood, which is something we parents just have to roll with.) Same applies to books in libraries.

Let’s hope that the board does indeed do the right thing, as KNOE indicates it will, and keeps these books on the shelves.

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