Last week, the U.S. House of Representatives passed an amendment to reverse President Donald Trump’s policy banning most transgender people from serving in the military. Prior to the ban, which took effect in April, transgender service members had openly served in the military for three years.
All Democrats and 10 Republicans voted in support of what’s been dubbed “The Truman Amendment” – a nod to former President Harry Truman’s July 26, 1948 executive order that desegregated the military.
The amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act, which passed 242-187, would allow people to serve in the military regardless of race, color, national origin, religion or sex, including gender identity or sexual orientation.
Retired Col. Jennifer Pritzker, who enlisted as a private in the U.S. Army in 1974, has become an outspoken advocate for transgender service members. She served in both the 82nd and 101st Airborne Divisions on active duty for 8.5 years and then served in the U.S. Army Reserve and the Illinois Army National Guard for another 18.5 years. In her retirement, she came out as transgender.
“The energy required to keep a secret; the internalized shame and stigma that result from laws and policies singling out one group as lesser; the costs to integrity that result from being forced to lie about who you are and all of this adds to high levels of minority stress which has very negative psychological consequences,” Pritzker told an audience at the Military Psychology Research Symposium hosted by Adler University and the American Psychological Association, where she was the keynote speaker on “Gender, Science, and Service: The Price of Bias in the Armed Forces.”
“The message that the transgender ban sends to [14,700 active duty and] 134,000 transgender veterans about their honorable service and the impact of this message has on the 1.4 million transgender adults in our country and on vulnerable transgender and gender nonconforming young people who are all being told, ‘We don’t value your service. We don’t want your kind here. You are a threat to all that’s good in our country.’”
Pritzker founded the Pritzker Military Museum & Library in 2003. She is the first cousin of Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker.
“No one should be summarily disqualified for reasons that have nothing to do with their ability,” Pritzker said. ”No one benefits from forcing LGBTQ troops back into the closet.”
Pritzker joins us in discussion, along with Joseph Troiani of Adler University, who helped establish its military psychology program. He is a retired U.S. Navy commander who served in naval intelligence and retired in 2010. His daughter is a transgender woman.