Research Group Gets $1.35 Million Grant to Study Transgenders In The Military

By:  Jack Kenny
07/31/2013
       
Research Group Gets $1.35 Million Grant to Study Transgenders In The Military

The Palm Center has received a $1.35 million grant to study issues related to the integrating of transgender persons into the armed forces.

The Palm Center, the Chicago-based research institute that helped persuade Congress and the Department of Defense that openly homosexual and lesbian men and women should be able to serve in the nation's military services, has received a $1.35 million grant to study issues related to the integrating of transgender persons into the armed forces.

The center's Transgender Military Initiative has commissioned 16 scholars to conduct 11 studies over the next three years to determine "whether and how the U.S. armed forces could include transgender troops without undermining readiness," according to a report published Tuesday on the news site, BuzzFeed. The studies, funded by the Tawani Foundation, are to cover a variety of issues, including privacy concerns, medical accommodations, the experiences of foreign militaries, and recreational activities.

"This academic research will inform an important public conversation by providing facts and evidence about transgender military service and gender expression in armed forces," Ira Lusero, project director of the Transgender Military Institute, said in a statement provided to BuzzFeed. "Militaries around the world are updating their policies, and we are already conducting research in Canada, Britain and Australia to learn whether their trans-inclusive regulations have impacted readiness."

In the 1990s the military's long-standing ban on homosexuals in the armed forces was replaced by a policy of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell," meaning homosexuals could serve so long as their sexual orientation was unknown. Studies conducted by the Palm Center are credited with leading the way for the congressional repeal of that law, allowing openly "gay" persons for the first time to enlist or remain in the armed forces. The grant for studying the transgender issues is a "crucial first step" toward further "ongoing research," said Nathaniel Frank, author of Unfriendly Fire: How the Gay Ban Undermines the Military and Weakens America, and a former scholar with the Palm Center. The studies should be viewed as part of a "long game," he told BuzzFeed. "The education dimension for getting people to understand the importance of openly gay service in the military, getting the country and the military and the Congress in the right position was a long game," Frank said.  "The same kind of long game in regard to transgender service has not yet been played."

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