April 28, 2014 | by Chris Johnson
Pentagon’s gay-inclusive human goals charter omits trans people
Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel speaks at a signing ceremony for a gay-inclusive human goals charter (Screenshot courtesy defense.gov).

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel speaks at a signing ceremony for a gay-inclusive human goals charter (Screenshot courtesy defense.gov).

The Pentagon issued Monday a new declaration of its goals for human rights, and although the document affirms for the first time inclusion of gay, lesbian and bisexual service members, it omits any reference of either transgender troops or civilian workers.

The document, known as the Department of Defense Human Goals Charter, sets forth principles for the Pentagon to “create a culture of inclusion” in the U.S. armed forces — both on the military and the civilian side. Although the document sets goals for the department, it doesn’t necessarily reflect a change in policy or law.

The Human Goals Charter was signed by Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel and other top leaders military at 3:30 Eastern Time during a ceremony at the Pentagon.

“The defense of the nation requires a well-trained volunteer force comprised of active and reserve military members and civilian personnel,” the document says. “We gain a strategic advantage through the diversity of our total force and create a culture of inclusion where individuals are drawn to serve, are valued, and actively contribute to the overall mission success.”

During the signing ceremony, Hagel touted the progress the Pentagon in integrating openly gay people in the military since repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” and the U.S. Supreme Court decision against the Defense of Marriage Act.

“I’m proud that the language of the charter has been updated to reflect the contributions of gay and lesbian military personnel, who now serve openly and proudly across America’s armed services,” Hagel said.

Acting Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel & Readiness Jessica Wright said the Pentagon has made “fundamental changes” in its views on sexual orientation, including the extension of spousal benefits to the same-sex spouses of military and civilian personnel.

In a section of the document that lays out the process for “attainment of these goals,” the term sexual orientation is included on both the military and civilian side.

The charter includes sexual orientation as a category in which the military will strive to be a “model of equal opportunity.” The term “sexual orientation” is also included in a section that describes ways “to provide equity in civilian employment.”

But there is no reference to gender identity. Transgender people are barred from service in the military because of medical regulations, despite growing efforts among LGBT advocates to push for openly transgender service.

Lt. Cmdr. Nathan Christensen, a Pentagon spokesperson, said “gender identity” wasn’t included in the section for civilian workers because it would fall under the category of “sex” in the charter.

“The Department did not specifically list ‘gender identity’ in the civilian equal employment opportunity section of the Human Goals document because discrimination against a transgender individual could be covered as a form of prohibited ‘sex discrimination,’ which is listed in the charter,” Christensen said.

Regarding the absence of “gender identity” from the military service portion of the document, Christensen said “there are no plans to change” to change the policy on transgender service.

“The Department considers that service members must serve in austere environments, many of which make necessary and ongoing treatments related to sex reassignment and many other conditions untenable,” Christensen said. “Policies on military personnel and health care regarding transgender members are intended to meet the needs of the services, which include the ability to deploy to and serve in austere environments with limited (and perhaps no) access to medical care for prolonged periods on little or no notice.”

The document is intended to be a forceful statement because it’s signed by all top leaders at the Pentagon. The Human Goals Charter was signed by the defense secretary; the deputy defense secretary; the chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff; the vice chair; each of the four military service chiefs; each of three service secretaries; the chief of the National Guard Bureau; and the Pentagon’s director of administration and management.

Stephen Peters, president of American Military Partner Association, gave the charter a mixed review, praising the gay-inclusive components, but saying more should be done in terms of non-discrimination.

“We applaud the Secretary of Defense and the Administration for identifying these important goals to build stronger and more inclusive command climates throughout the Department of Defense,” Peters said. “However, we call upon the Secretary and the Administration to take swift action in changing the official DoD Non-Discrimination Policy and the Military Equal Opportunity Program to include sexual orientation as a protected class for uniformed troops against unlawful prejudice and discrimination.”

Currently, service members have no recourse for anti-gay discrimination outside of their chain of command. LGBT advocates have been pushing for the enactment of an explicit non-discrimination protections for gay members of the armed forces within the Military Equal Opportunity Program.

Peters also took note of the absence of gender identity from any section of the charter.

“We also look forward to the day when the Human Goals Charter addresses gender identity and our transgender service members are no longer forced to serve in silence,” Peters said.

The last time a Human Goals Charter was signed under the Defense Department was in 1998 under then-Defense Secretary William Cohen. At the time, when openly gay troops were barred from service under “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” the charter omitted any reference to “sexual orientation” under a section related to inclusion in the military. However, sexual orientation was included in the component the civilian workforce.

For his part, Hagel admitted — without any identifying any particular task — more work is necessary to ensure equal opportunity for all Americans serving or working for the U.S. armed forces.

“While there has been much progress made, all of us know there’s still more work to be done,” Hagel said. “We must reinforce a culture of accountability, dignity and respect across DOD and for all people. That is a top priority for all of us. Every person who serves our country in uniform has stepped forward with courage and commitment. Their patriotism, their willingness to serve their country and their qualifications to do so, that’s what matters. Nothing else.”

Chris Johnson is Chief Political & White House Reporter for the Washington Blade. Johnson attends the daily White House press briefings and is a member of the White House Correspondents' Association. Follow Chris

15 Comments
  • Sadly, Mr. Johnson, hanging onto the current Politically Correct bandwagon of open transgender service (however MUCH a goal that is and which must be more aggressively pursued), apparently TOTALLY misses how HISTORIC a day this is—just as previously he’s demonstrated how poorly he understands that repeal of DADT was just the first STEP in creating real equality for LGBs in the military, and how many ways they have OFFICIALLY and ARBITRARILY been kept Second Class Soldiers for over two and half years since repeal implementation. BRAVO to Mr. Peters for spelling out how Secretary Hagel and the DoD must move from words to ACTION, and stop coddling, tolerating, and looking the other way as many recalcitrant homophobes in the Pentagon and field continue to stand in the door of equality for LGB service members. It is not a matter of that being more important than equality for transgender service members, for it isn’t nor isn’t it a matter of “wait your turn,” but that anyone who understands how the military changes knows that justice for those transgender will never come until justice for LGB service members is no longer denied.

  • Sadly, Mr. Johnson, hanging onto the current Politically Correct bandwagon of open transgender service (however MUCH a goal that is and which must be more aggressively pursued), apparently TOTALLY misses how HISTORIC a day this is—just as previously he's demonstrated how poorly he understands that repeal of DADT was just the first STEP in creating real equality for LGBs in the military, and how many ways they have OFFICIALLY and ARBITRARILY been kept Second Class Soldiers for over two and half years since repeal implementation. BRAVO to Mr. Peters for spelling out how Secretary Hagel and the DoD must move from words to ACTION, and stop coddling, tolerating, and looking the other way as many recalcitrant homophobes in the Pentagon and field continue to stand in the door of equality for LGB service members. It is not a matter of that being more important than equality for transgender service members, for it isn't nor is it a matter of "wait your turn," but that anyone who understands how the military changes knows that justice for those transgender will never come until justice for LGB service members is no longer denied.

  • My last sentence should have read:

    It is not a matter of that being more important than equality for transgender service members, for it isn’t nor IS it a matter of “wait your turn,” but that anyone who understands how the military changes knows that justice for those transgender will never come until justice for LGB service members is no longer denied.

    Thank you.

  • Jacqueline Waters

    Yeah , because if we "“wait your turn,” we will die waiting. DODT was repealed 10 years ago, transgender service members still have to serve in hiding and fear because once again the T is left behind…typically.

  • “Pentagon’s gay-inclusive human goals charter omits trans people”

    “The document, known as the Department of Defense Human Goals Charter, sets forth principles for the Pentagon to “create a culture of inclusion” in the U.S. armed forces — both on the military and the civilian side. Although the document sets goals for the department, it doesn’t necessarily reflect a change in policy or law.”

    “But there is no reference to gender identity. Transgender people are barred from service in the military because of medical regulations, despite growing efforts among LGBT advocates to push for openly transgender service.”
    ==================================
     
    The Blade covered the full news of this story while rightfully reporting the hypocrisy of DoD’s “Human Goals Charter” PR nonsense. That’s the the more important news element here, as it reveals DoD’s (and by extension, the Obama Admin’s) disingenuousness regarding LGBT issues that matter. That just happens to be in time for LGBT Pride season, we should note.
     
    If anything, IMHO, the Blade soft-pedaled DoD’s institutional transphobia and anti-trans discrimination. The term “omits” is too generous. “Excludes” or “erases” are verbs closer to the mark.
     
    As with Obama’s hypocrisy re. signing a federal contractor EO, this is just another example of national Dems’ anti-LGBT hypocrisy which cares more about milking LGBT campaign donors than really ending discrimination against LGBT workers and service members.
     
    Please, find something else to do when the DNC calls. Don’t cut those 2014 Dem donor checks until Obama and Congressional Democrats stop using federal dollars for anti-LGBT discrimination.

  • What a load of crap. That's just your fancy way of saying trans people are less important to you than LGB people and trans people should get in the back of the bus and maybe you'll be nice enough to treat them like equal human beings one day if they shut up. You're just a transphobe, plain and simple.

  • I'm transgender and I'm currently enlisted.. I've been in the military for over almost 11 years now and if this doesn't change within the next year, I'll unfortunately have to get out. I really hope that this changes someday and we can all serve.

  • Jacqueline Waters Yep… it's pathetic!! Well, I'll tell you this much… if they don't change things within the next 12 months, they're going to lose a great NCO and a hard worker with a positive attitude! I'll find a job somewhere where I'm accepted!

  • @ Brooks Austin: your knee-jerk histrionics, desperate to see enemies under every bed, are a part of the problem not a part of the solution. In NOTHING I wrote could anyone but such a person "see" ANY suggestion that BOTH issues CAN'T/SHOULDN'T be forcefully ADVOCATED for at the same time; but rather merely that those who think that abandoning completing the job of achieving full equality for LGBs will hasten the achievement of any amount of equality for those transgender are fools confusing self-righteousness with strategy. Some people build bridges; some people only want to blow them up. Pick your hat. One size fits all.

  • @ Brooks Austin: your knee-jerk histrionics, desperate to see enemies under every bed, are a part of the problem not a part of the solution. In NOTHING I wrote could anyone but such a person "see" ANY suggestion that BOTH issues CAN'T/SHOULDN'T be forcefully ADVOCATED for at the same time; but rather merely that those who think that abandoning completing the job of achieving full equality for LGBs will hasten the achievement of any amount of equality for those transgender are fools confusing self-righteousness with strategy. Some people build bridges; some people only want to blow them up. Pick your hat. One size fits all.

  • Your statement makes zero sense. Who exactly is calling for abandoning completing the job of equality for LGB people? The only person I see calling for abandoning completing achieving equal rights for anyone is you.

  • Walgreens called again, STILL wanting to know when you're going to pick up your Haloperidol prescription. But thanks for playing.

  • Michael Bedwell So not only are you transphobic, you're also a bigot towards people with mental disorders

  • I was hospitalized in late 2012, and was transferred to one of the military wards ( despite the fact that I am a civilian). There, I met several gay and lesbian service members who were totally open and above board about their sexual orientation — something which would have been utterly impossible just two years earlier. I think that we need to give the armed forces credit for the lengths they have gone to to eliminate anti-gay bigotry from the ranks of soldiers, sailors, and air force personnel. I remember the horrors of the early 1990s, when Senator Sam Nunn took a camera crew on board a submarine to highlight the lack of privacy available to sailors on such vessels. Those days are over, and they are over because of relentless pressure applied to the military to drop DADT.

    I think that the armed forces should take a bow. A change I thought would never occur did in fact occur, at breakneck speed and with minimal resistance.

    PHILIP CHANDLER

  • He / she still looks like he’s twenty five.
    Amazing.

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