Sexual orientation and gender identity in the United States military

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U.S. Sailors gather for cake during a Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Pride Month observance aboard the guided missile cruiser USS Philippine Sea (CG 58) June 30, 2014, in the Persian Gulf. The ship was deployed as part of the George H.W. Bush Carrier Strike Group in support of maritime security operations and theater security cooperation efforts in the U.S. 5th Fleet area of responsibility.
The Department of Defense LGBT Pride Month event celebration cake. The celebration was held on the Pentagon Courtyard, June 8th, 2016.

In the past most lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) personnel had major restrictions placed on them in terms of service in the United States military. As of 2010 sexual orientation and gender identity in the United States military varies greatly as the United States Armed Forces have become increasingly openly diverse in the regards of LGBTQ[a] people and acceptance towards them.

By demographics[edit]


Until 1993, military policy strictly forbid non-heterosexuals from serving in the military. From 1993, the military used its "Don't ask, don't tell" policy, which only restricted non-heterosexuals from serving if they were open about their sexual orientation. This led to a number[quantify] of active investigations into members of the services to determine their sexuality and saw several court challenges over privacy rights. The "Don't ask, don't tell" policy was repealed in September 2011, allowing homosexuals, bisexuals and pansexuals to serve openly in the armed forces. Marriage and partner benefits remained in question until after the Supreme Court ruled in United States v. Windsor (2013) that the military must offer similar benefits to these relationships as they do to heterosexual ones. Since 2013, the military gives fully equal treatment legally to their partners and families.

Transgender people[edit]

Transgender people were able to serve in the United States armed forces since June 2016. President Donald Trump succeeded in legalizing discrimination against trans personnel through a series of actions including March 2018 Presidential Memorandum; the orders of Trump are in effect.

Intersex persons[edit]

The accepting of intersex people in the United States Armed Forces seems to vary depending on the nature of the condition for individual people.[1] Publications by the United States National Center for Biotechnology Information recommends that intersex individuals be allowed to serve in the armed forces, but not combat units.[2] The Veterans Health Administration distinguishes between surgeries for transgender individuals and intersex persons. In 2015 this allowed intersex persons to receive medically necessary treatment that was prohibited for trans people at the time.[3][4] The Civil Air Patrol and Coast Guard Auxiliary accept all intersex persons.[5]


In 2012 transvestism was included in a list of conditions which disqualified individuals for service under the Department of Defense Instruction 6130.03.[6] The ban dates back to 1961.[7] The repeal of Don't ask, don't tell did not allow cross-dressers to serve openly in the armed forces.[8][9] Since cross-dressing is sometimes conflated with attempts by transgender people to transition there have been instances of people being discharged for cross-dressing or rejected from service altogether when trying to enlist for past cross-dressing.[10][11]

By service[edit]

Air Force[edit]




Coast Guard[edit]

In 1994, the United States Coast Guard issued a memo by Commandant Thomas Fisher public which barred anti-gay discrimination against the service's civilian employees while uniformed personnel were still subject to discharge under "don't ask, don't tell".[17][18][19][20][21]

Marine Corps[edit]





Memorials for Queer veterans[edit]

In the year 2000, a memorial to all veterans and to Queer veterans was dedicated in the national veterans cemetery in Phoenix, Arizona.[29] In 2001, the first American memorial specifically honoring LGBT veterans was dedicated in Desert Memorial Park, Cathedral City, California.[29] In 2014, the third LGBT Veterans Memorial was dedicated at the New Mexico Veterans Memorial Park in Albuquerque, New Mexico by the Bataan chapter of the American Veterans for Equal Rights.[30] In May 2015, the first American federally-approved monument honoring LGBT veterans with the message "Gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people have served honorably and admirably in America's armed forces" was dedicated at the Abraham Lincoln National Cemetery near Chicago;[31] the US$18,000 monument was dedicated by the Chicago Chapter of American Veterans for Equal Rights, and was defaced by vandals in June 2017.[32][33]


See also[edit]



  1. ^ "Gender, Sexuality and Joining the Military - Voice of San Diego". 10 February 2010.
  2. ^ Marom, T.; Itskoviz, D.; Ostfeld, I. (2008). "Intersex patients in military service". Military Medicine. 173 (11): 1132–5. doi:10.7205/milmed.173.11.1132. PMID 19055190.
  3. ^[full citation needed]
  4. ^[full citation needed]
  5. ^ 2014; Operative Pediatric Surgery - Page 901
  6. ^ "Department of Defense Instruction Number 6130.03" (PDF). Office of the Secretary of Defense. 2 July 2012. Retrieved 28 August 2017.
  7. ^
  8. ^ "What About "Transvestite Clothing" In The Military? - Dallas Voice". 28 September 2015.
  9. ^
  10. ^ Speckhard, Anna and Paz, Reuven; "Transgender Service in the Israel Defense Forces: A Polar Opposite Stance to the U.S. Military Policy of Barring Transgender Soldiers from Service" (2014);
  11. ^ Sexual Assault in the U.S. Military: The Battle Within America's Armed; 83
  12. ^ "Serving with pride > U.S. Air Force > Display".
  13. ^ Shapiro, Lila (November 21, 2013). "Gay Cadet Lashes Out At Air Force Press Release Claiming Gays Are Welcome" – via Huff Post.
  14. ^ "The United States Army | Army Review Boards Agency".
  15. ^ "Army celebrates LGBT pride". The Fort Campbell Courier.
  16. ^ Kheel, Rebecca (April 20, 2017). "LGBT group slams Army nominee's comments on 'crushing evil'". TheHill.
  17. ^ "Clear sailing?". The Advocate. 1994-05-31. p. 15. Retrieved 2010-07-28.
  18. ^ "LGBT « Coast Guard Compass". Compass.
  19. ^ "A branch of the military just announced they will resist Trump over transgender troops". The Independent. August 2, 2017.
  20. ^ October 31, Michael Bedwell; pm, 2013 at 10:45 pm EST at 10:45 (October 31, 2013). "Coast Guard enacts pro-gay non-discrimination policy".
  21. ^ "OutServe-SLDN – We've Got Your Six".
  22. ^ "2018 LESBIAN, GAY, BISEXUAL, AND TRANSGENDER (LGBT) PRIDE MONTH > The Official United States Marine Corps Public Website > Messages Display".
  23. ^ Meadows, Sarah O.; Engel, Charles C.; Collins, Rebecca L.; Beckman, Robin L.; Cefalu, Matthew; Hawes-Dawson, Jennifer; Doyle, Molly; Kress, Amii M.; Sontag-Padilla, Lisa; Ramchand, Rajeev; Williams, Kayla M. (February 6, 2018). "2015 Health Related Behaviors Survey".
  24. ^ Campaign, Human Rights. "Pursuing My Passion for LGBT Equality at the Marine Corps Marathon". Human Rights Campaign.
  25. ^ "LGBT Advocates Liked What They Heard From Mattis". Task & Purpose. January 16, 2017.
  26. ^ Wong, Julia Carrie (July 28, 2016). "US navy to name ship after gay rights icon Harvey Milk" – via
  27. ^ "Navy Secretary, DoD Celebrate Diversity During LGBT Event". U.S. DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE.
  28. ^ "(PDF) LGBT at USNA". ResearchGate.
  29. ^ a b "National LGBT Veterans Memorial". Retrieved 2015-05-26.
  30. ^ LTC Steve Loomis (May 26, 2014). "New Inclusive Memorial Honors LGBT Veterans".
  31. ^ "Monument to LGBT veterans dedicated in Elwood". Retrieved 2015-05-26.
  32. ^ Philipps, Dave (26 July 2017). "For Transgender Service Members, a Mix of Sadness, Anger and Fear". The New York Times. Retrieved 27 July 2017.
  33. ^ Gallagher, Erin (23 June 2017). "Monument dedicated to LGBT veterans defaced at Abraham Lincoln cemetery". Daily Southtown. Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 27 July 2017.

External links[edit]