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Ferguson's View: GLBT in the Military

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  • (Bennie Lee "Ben" Ferguson is a Trannyweb member running as an independent candidate for the American presidency in 2008. She is registered with the Federal Election Commission. E-mail: Web page: Campaign contributions may be mailed to: Ferguson President Fund, 2708 King Street, Hutchinson, Kansas 67502, U.S.A. Checks or money orders only please.)

    GLBT PERSONS OPENLY SERVING IN THE MILITARY-Because I am bisexual and transgendered, it is often assumed that I support the policy of GLBT citizens being allowed to serve openly in the military. This is not necessarily the case. The military routinely denies civil rights to its members which they would normally enjoy in civilian life. Morale is probably one of the most important factors in determining the effectiveness of the military and if it is determined by its leadership that openly gay men, lesbians, bisexuals, or transgendered persons in its ranks are detrimental in this regard, this policy is ill-advised. The military is there to break things and kill people, not to advance the GLBT rights agenda.

    It's not so much a question of effeminacy (or, more appropriately, homosexuality) being inappropriate in a military setting. In one of the ancient Greek city-states there was an entire battalion of gay soldiers renowned for their courage and ferocity in battle. Winston Churchill once remarked that the three things which made the vaunted British Navy so effective were discipline, rum, and sodomy. There are also historical examples of transgendered individuals who have been very effective as soldiers and military leaders. (Native American berdaches or two-spirit people come to mind in this regard.) Where the U.S. military is concerned, however, it seems to me unwise to tinker with so sensitive an issue at this point in time, given that we are at war and that the integration of openly GLBT persons into the military might very well have a profoundly adverse impact on morale and effectiveness.
      June 19, 2007 12:05 AM BST
  • I am concerned at the views expressed by candidate Ferguson on the topic of gay men and women serving in the United States armed forces, particularly in the wake of the recent controversy surrounding the discharge of essential Arab language interpreters from the armed forces during time of war, when their skills are vital to a war effort that depends heavily on their abilities, based soleley on their sexual orientation.

    These views are especially distressing when expressed by a candidate who actively seeks the support of the LGBT community to advance the campaign for office, and when expressed within the pages of a site dedicated to the support and advancement of the transgender cause.

    The American military has a history of discriminatory practice, having resisted efforts toward full racial integration for a full 25 years after being ordered by decree, choosing to continue the policy of racial segregation by placing African American soldiers in such low profile areas as the Quartermaster Corps and Construction Batallions. Aside from a few such units as the highly decorated Tuskegee Airmen, and a handful of other exclusively African American units who served with distinction, the fact remains that these units were segregated, and that the general integration of the armed forces in demographic proportion to the general population was not complete until as recently as 1965.

    In a nutshell, this was found to be inconsistent with the inclusive nature of the Democracy these soldiers were charged with defending. Similarly, in this age of emphasis on diversity of every kind in every aspect of American life, the military's policy of the exclusion of gay service people is inconsistent even with the policy of every other branch and agency of the federal government, which explicitly prohibits discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity. Not only that, but the American military is the only such force in the western world that continues this kind of discrimination despite the enlistment of foreign nationals among its ranks, which would appear to be an even greater threat to national security.

    It is a well known fact that many thousands of LGBT sooldiers have served with distinction, and in fact, that the percentage of transgender members of such paramilitary forces as police and emergency service providers is higher than that which is recorded statistically among the general population, and it is likely that a similar demographic presently exists in all branches of the military. The rationale for having continued the policy of racial segregation in the military for so long was one of "efficiency," while the rationale for the exclusion of LGBT people from military service is supposed to be one of "morale." It would seem a backward approach to exclude an entire population segment based upon such justification, when the more logical solution would be the adjustment of the military's policy and the education of its personnel to reflect the principles it is charged with defending.

    On another related issue, it would seem that candidate Ferguson's views are not necessarily consistent with the agenda of the community from which campaign support is being sought. Though in an ideal world the concept of "hate crime" should be nonexistent, the reality in America is that hate motivated violence against LGBT people is all too common, and unfortunately, it is necessary to enact legislation to protect our community to some further degree than we already are protected. Further, such hate crime prevention legislation is the key to additional federal anti discrimination legislation in the areas of public accomodation, employment and housing, among others.

    I would make the suggestion that candidate Ferguson rethink these positions when seeking support form the LGBT community, or seek support elsewhere.
      June 19, 2007 1:32 AM BST
  • I know you restated part of your position regarding GLBT being effeminate. After all - now, this will come as a shock - not all gay people are men (gasp!). I knew a few lesbians who wanted to join the military, and were accepted, and they had it in writing that they would not be required to wear skirts (we are talking about some very "butch" women here).

    What concerns me is what do we really mean by "openly gay?" Anyone I ever met who was gay felt no reason to come right out and announce they were gay. Are we talking about a group of guys in the barracks who want to sit around in front of the "straight" guys and discuss how much they want to be a bottom to Brad Pitt's top (or vice versa)? Or are we talking about people who want to be like we are; that is, we just live our lives and want to blend in and not be a spectacle?

    I can't remember the man's name, or his situation other than he served in Viet Nam, as was discharged for being gay. Upon his passing, his tombstone read, as I best recall, "The Army gave me a medal for killing a man, and a discharge for loving one."

    While we're on the subject, Bennie, how many people in the military now joined just to promote our agenda? How many joined because they felt it was what they wanted to do, such a getting a job and/or serving their country? I'm sure there are some in the GLBT category who would stampede to be the "first" to be open about themselves AND serve. Do they tell the recruiter "I want to be the first openly TS in the military?" Why would you join a group where you can potentially be killed as a part of your job unless you felt something strong in it? There are much better ways to promote our agenda other than to join a violent organization. I want to be open about who I am, to be full-time. Joining the military is not one of the solutions to my situation.

    By the way, let's really reach back into history and see how many of the best military commanders were gay. For some, having a young man with them in their tent the night before a battle was their way to relax and get ready (so to speak). Does it work? I don't care!

    I am an Anarchist, and would never join the military, so don't anyone to take this to read that I oppose any sort of legislation of any kind in any direction.

    These are just some thoughts, some of which I know could be more eloquently described. I'm still working them out.


    By the way, the "great" film director Ed Wood, a CD, served in WWII wearing lingerie. How did that divide anyone other than tear him apart? He didn't fear getting killed. He feared being wounded and the medic finding out. Will a soldier now in satin panties bring the end of our civilization?

    You can get anything you want at Alice's restaurant.
      June 19, 2007 2:03 AM BST
  • The military cannot control the interracial violence in the military today.

    The military probably has a higher than general population percentage of homophobes and they are probably the violent ones. I don't know why we would want to be in that environment. I want the person in front of me shooting at me...not the one behind me. I don't want to be alone in a foxhole. What they gonna do in formation. "Count off" "" "Gays fall out to left flank, straight to right flank...digggggg FOXHOLES." Look, I was GOOD in my military training. I was clearly the best shot in my Combat Rifle class under the best instructor in the world. I'm still good, just slow, lol. But I would not want to do it knowing I was TG and knowing everyone else did. You have to trust the "man" next to you or the unit suffers. The military knows this. As Dirty Harry said., "That's a hell of a price to pay for being stylish."

    Back in the 60's I was wrong about two things. That I should live as a man...a REAL man. That I wanted to go to Vietnam and fight Communists. Both turned out to be bad ideas.

    I also wanted to be on a flight crew in any capacity. I can understand that people often really want the right to do dumbass things. I did. I don't support discrimination on any basis except capability to do the job.
    So while I think it's a BAD idea to change the military's current stance at this may be a worse idea to support the idea that GLBT people are SO different and "unsuitable" that they should be treated differently. That's the kind of thinking that kept blacks out of units with white soldiers....until they decided they would rather send black boys than white boys to Vietnam. Then it was ok to have black soldiers in combat units....way out of proportion to the general population. If we are lucky, they may decide it's a good way to use us up too and we will get full gender integration of the military.

    I don't know what the answer is. They SAID women would never be accepted in the military.
    "A live lived in fear is a life half-lived." - Native American proverb. "Inside every man is a woman who was drowned in testosterone before birth". - Wendy Jeanette Larsen "It is better to be hated for what you are than loved for what you're not." - Andre Gide (French writer)
      June 19, 2007 5:20 AM BST
  • 1195
    Peermitme to add my two cents.
    From my experience in the Army, the military are very resistant to change. In fact their slogan while I was in the service was "We've been doing it this way for 40 years(or whatever) and we're not going to change."
    Hope that answers a few ideas.
    "respectfully submitted"
    <p>If it isn't fun - don't do it.</p>
      June 19, 2007 6:25 PM BST
  • HI All,
    There are a few enlightened leaders in the Military, unfortunately not enough to make a difference in attitude. I'm speaking of General/ex Secretary of State Colin Powell. I recently had a chance to hear him speak about many subjects, including gays in the military. He believes the Dont ask/dont tell is wrong and said so in front of about 2000 executives in Phoenix last month (June 2007).

    Too bad he is way too smart to try and run for an office such as our US Presidency. It is a shame that only those with huge ego's run, while the more qualified (such as Colin) pass on the opportunity.

    BTW: He told some wonderful behind the scene stories about Reagan, Bush I, Clinton, Bush II and Grobachev....

    Hoping someday to find a qualified candidate who can be a president to all his people, including those in the US who are transgendered.

    Michelle Lynn

    PS - Putting my soapbox away now... sorry
      June 20, 2007 1:26 AM BST