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Back to Section One | Back to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, January 28, 2011 - Volume 39 Issue 04
Stanford students fight return of ROTC
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Stanford students fight return of ROTC

by Shaun Knittel - SGN Associate Editor

Several student organizations have launched a new campaign against the return of the Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) to college campuses in light of the repeal of 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' (DADT) due to their policy of discrimination towards Transgender servicemembers.

The National Marriage Boycott, a national youth-led LGBT rights organization, has called for youth activists on college campuses that include gender identity in their non-discrimination clause to oppose the introduction or return of ROTC to their institutions.

On the campus of Stanford University 'Students for Queer Liberation,' an LGBTQ rights group, is currently lobbying Stanford administration and organizing against the return of ROTC to campus.

'Now, more than ever, is the time for college students across the country to take a stand and organize against Transgender discrimination, an issue that has been historically ignored by the mainstream Gay rights agenda' said Alok Vaid-Menon, president of Stanford Students for Queer Liberation. 'A re-introduction of ROTC on college campuses [including Stanford, Harvard, and Columbia] that include 'gender identity' in their non-discrimination clause is a fundamental violation of policy and an endorsement of discrimination.'

The Military Leadership Diversity Commission issued the recommendation of a ban on Transgender servicemembers as part of a draft report on diversity in the services. The final report is due to lawmakers this spring and commission members are meeting this week in Virginia to debate final changes.

This treatment of Transsexual servicemembers was recently highlighted in the Washington Post article titled 'Transgender Vets Want Military Access For Own' telling the story of former Petty Officer First Class Autumn Sandeen and her trials as a Trans-women veteran.

'Before handcuffing herself to the White House fence, Autumn Sandeen carefully pinned three rows of Navy ribbons to her chest. Her regulation dress blue skirt, fitted jacket, hat, and black pumps were new - fitting for a woman who spent two decades serving her country as a man,' read the article. 'Sandeen was the only Transgender person among the six veterans arrested in April while protesting the military's ban on openly Gay troops. But when she watched President Barack Obama last month sign the hard-fought bill allowing for the ban's repeal, melancholy tinged her satisfaction.'

'This is another bridesmaid moment for the Transgender community,' the 51-year-old San Diego resident Sandeen said.

Sandeen hopes the United States will one day join the seven other nations - Canada, the United Kingdom, Spain, Israel, the Czech Republic, Thailand, and Australia - that allow Transgender troops.

No one knows how many Transgender people are serving or have served. Neither the Department of Defense nor the VA keep statistics on how many servicemembers have been discharged or treated for Transgender conditions or conduct.

The Transgender American Veterans Association, an advocacy group founded in 2003, estimates there could be as many as 300,000 Transgender people among the nation's 26 million veterans.

The National Marriage Boycott is a youth-led grassroots movement determined to create a world where everyone, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity, can live with dignity and security. NMB mobilizes youth activists at college campuses across the country to become involved in the struggle for LGBTQ equality. You can learn more about NMB at www.nationalmarriageboycott.com.

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