Priceonomics may be one of the best blogs you’re not reading. This week, the site’s Ben Christopher published a great article on transgender Americans and military service. It confirmed some of the suspicions I’ve always had and raised several points I’d never considered. It’s well worth a read.
And FWIW, I have a hunch that you could substitute “the church” for “the military”, and the article would read mostly the same.
Anyway, here’s a taste:
While media coverage of high profile trans service members like Chelsea Manning and Kristin Beck often presents the stories of transgender troops as novel—a singular juxtaposition of gender nonconformity within institutions that prize conformity above all else—they are anything but.
In fact, the available evidence suggests that transgender Americans serve at rates well above the national average. Though the data is sparse, studies estimate that trans men and women are anywhere from two- to five-times more likely to join the military as their cisgender (nontrans) counterparts. For all its perceived conservatism and raging heteronormativity, the United States Armed Forces is almost certainly the largest employer of transgender people in this country.
Trans service members and veterans offer a variety of explanations for this disparity. For some, the military uniform functions as gender camouflage—a way to forestall uncomfortable questions from friends, family, or spouses. For others, joining the armed forces offers financial security and community to a group that is disproportionately denied both.