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In response to Suzette Collins’ guest column (“The unnecessary transgender debate,” 3/22/2011), I feel compelled to communicate some facts and insight that were absent.

Firstly, let’s discuss the “physical challenges” that Collins believes disqualify transgender individuals from military service. Both female-to-male and male-to-female individuals undergo what is called “triadic care.” It involves psychotherapy, hormone therapy and gender confirmation surgery. As with any medical procedure, “challenges” associated with it become increasingly minimal over time. For a successful M-to-F surgery, we’re talking about a daily pill and a weekly dilation. The notion that every transperson has permanent, service-preventing physical challenges is wholly incorrect.

Secondly, “let’s be honest” and acknowledge reality. In a 2009 survey of 6,450 transgender individuals conducted by the National Center for Transgender Equality, a whopping 20 percent reported military service, double the national rate of military participation. How have we thanked the transgender community for assuming this disproportionate share of military service? Twenty-six percent of transgender individuals lost their job, 97 percent reported mistreatment at work, 26 percent have been homeless at some point and 41 percent have attempted suicide because of others’ reactions to their gender identity.

If that is not the pinnacle of societal discrimination and injustice, I don’t know what is. Please educate yourself, further the dialogue and take a stand. This debate is necessary.

Tyler Ernst Wharton and Engineering junior and former Chair of the Lambda Alliance


As a former Army ROTC cadet who left the program for reasons including “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” I believe that Collins’ characterization of DADT as a “fair and fine professional service code for everybody to live by” reveals a fundamental misunderstanding of the policy.

DADT was not about preserving military professionalism by preventing “everybody” from bringing sexuality into the work environment. It prohibited one specific category of people from engaging in public or private expressions of affection even outside of their professional lives.

While the discriminatory effect of this legislation perhaps might have been tempered if military officials in fact didn’t ask and didn’t care about sexual orientation, that was unfortunately not always the case. Collins seems to forget that over 13,000 people were discharged from the military under DADT since its passage in 1993. Though the recent repeal of DADT now makes this issue largely a historical one, Collins should reconsider her belief that the policy was not of particular consequence to gay service members.

Samantha Logan College senior and School of Arts and Sciences graduate student


I was deeply upset by The Daily Pennsylvanian’s choice to publish Collins' column. Its contents were offensive and discriminatory.

In my opinion, this piece only served to degrade transgender people to biological discrimination, which is reprehensible. Her expressed opinions are deplorable in many ways, but the paramount concern I have is that the DP decided to print this.

I am a fierce advocate for freedom of speech and would be the first to defend Collins’ right to share her views. However, I believe this parent’s article should be published in a journal for bigotry, not our campus paper.

Does the DP publish all the articles it receives? Would it be acceptable to publish an article on why Muslims should not be allowed to be in the military?

Last year, the DP’s former Executive Editor Rachel Baye wrote that, in choosing news and opinion articles to publish, the paper’s “mission is to inform the community” (“Inside the ‘DP’ logic,” 12/3/2010). The DP has been incredibly positive about covering the LGBTQ community in the past. I hope that it holds itself to a higher standard in the future.

Jason Landau Goodman College senior and former political chair of the Lambda Alliance

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