Dress Rules Established for Transsexuals in the Military

In the same vein as previous blog topics regarding gays and lesbians in the military and the discrimination that they face with the DADT policy, I felt like this article regarding transsexuals dress code in the military is similar in the sense that the military is once again attempting to conceal LGBTQ people that have enrolled.

Written by Tom Blackwell for the National Post the article reports how Canadian Forces have issues a new policy detailing how the organization should accommodate transsexual and transvestite troops.  The CF military administration manual states that soldiers, sailors and air force personnel have the right to privacy and respect if they change their sex or sexual identity, but they must conform to the dress code of what of what the CF calls their “target gender.” Cherie Macleod who is the executive director of PLFAG Canada said that she has helped a number of Canadian Forces members undergo sex changes, and surgeries that now the Canadian military funds.

A quote from MacLeod states, “This is an important step towards recognizing a community that has always struggled for equal rights and basic human protection. When the government becomes more inclusive, over time, society will follow.”

Not everyone in the Forces is as happy as MacLeod and disliked what they read in their emails last week. Scott Taylor a publisher of Esprit de Corps military magazine beliefs that headquarters staff are out of touch and resent what they consider “politically correct” policies.

“You couldn’t get much worse timing on that internally” says Taylor. “It’s so removed from what the guys are facing over in Afghanistan…that doesn’t really relate to the dress codes of the transgendered.”

The National Defense Department helps one or two of it’s troops go through sex changes a year, drafted a report in response to questions from administrative staff.

Rana Sioufi a department spokeswoman said:

“The Canadian Forces is unique in that it must recruit, house, clothe, train and deploy it’s members. This requires clear direction and standardized instructions to deal with individuals who may not fall into the generally accepted gender categories.”


The new chapter in the National Defense manual defines a transsexual as someone who a psychological need to live as a member of the opposite sex, whether they’ve undergone sex-change surgery or not. The chapter goes on to say that a transsexual service person must comply with the dress code and standards of deportment of that gender to which he/she is changing.

BUT in fine print the chapter also says that the Canadian Forces will NOT change the name of a transsexual person who receives any medal or award because “there is no legal authority for rewriting history.”

Cpl Natalie Murray who is a IT technician in the Canadian Forces who recently transitioned told CBC Radio show that many of her colleagues were supportive but her superiors attempted to push her out of the army.

“They try to turn things around and invent an excuse so that they can get rid of you, and they almost succeeded, but fortunately cooler heads way up high prevailed.”

Writer’s Comments:

Although it seems like the Canadian forces are being progressive in not only funding sex change surgeries and procedures, but allowing trans people in the military to dress as a opposite sex that positive progressiveness seems overshadowed by the fact that they refuse to acknowledge name changes on official awards. I get the feeling that the military is trying to appear on the outside as doing good, but if anyone were to look back on a successful victory by the Candia Forces in a historical text they would see a name like John Jones, when in reality it was Jane Jones, a self proclaimed transsexual who abided by all the dress code rules and regulations associated with a woman in the military.  I will think the military is being progressive when they choose to be affiliated with those types of descriptions in history books.




One response to “Dress Rules Established for Transsexuals in the Military

  1. I like this post. I feel like the GLBT community has always been misrepresented, or under represented in the military. A good book which examines in closer detail the initial discrimination seen in the military by gay men and lesbians is Coming Out Under Fire. You should check it out if you are interested in issues like this!

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