August 1, 2017
Last week, a segment of the population that the NASPA Veterans Knowledge Community represents and works with was targeted on social media by the Commander-in-Chief. Service members publicly had their (c)a(p)bility to serve honorably and worthy of the due care provided to all military service members called into question. As an organization dedicated to ensuring that all veterans have every opportunity to experience and grow in their own educational journey, the NASPA VKC wants to reiterate our support for any person that has served in the military, regardless of gender identity, sexuality, ethnicity, or race.
Transgender servicemembers have been serving honorably for many years. Christine Jorgensen, known for being the first trans woman to receive sex reassignment surgery in 1951, served in the U.S. Army in World War II. Approximately 10.7% of the general U.S. population has served on active duty or in the reserves, while approximately 20% of the transgender population has served, meaning that the transgender population are twice as likely to serve in the military as the cisgender population. At best estimate, there are currently up to 6,630 personnel in the U.S. military who identify as transgender in the active component, and another 4,160 members in the reserves or National Guard. The tweet by the president was a personal attack to many within our community and had a direct and detrimental impact on the student veteran population. The NASPA VKC would like to reaffirm that regardless of whether the president’s policy dictation by social media becomes an official Department of Defense policy or not, the dehumanization of transgender service members and veterans by the current administration will in no way impact how veteran service providers on our campuses treat the human beings that walk through our doors each day, seeking assistance and support in navigating their education during and post military service.
The NASPA VKC believes that every veteran deserves the full care and support that our community has to offer. As General Martin Dempsey, former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said “The service of men and women who volunteer and who meet our standards of service is a blessing, not a burden.” Veteran’s service offices on campuses are, and will remain, open to any person who has served in the military. If any VKC member or military-connected student has questions on creating a more inclusive space for all veterans on their campus, or is interested in obtaining resources to support veterans across a spectrum of gender identities, you are welcome to reach out to Christine Black, Communications Co-Chair for the VKC, at [email protected] Amber Mathwig, the Research Co-Chair for the VKC, at [email protected], or Zackaray Gentry, the Trans Inclusion Core Member for the NASPA Gender and Sexuality Knowledge Community at [email protected]
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