This Person Exists: Transgender People Can Now Fight and Die For the Empire

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Sergeant Shane Ortega, 28, one of the military's first openly trans members.

The Pentagon's long-awaited decision to end its ban on transgender people serving openly in the U.S. military has been widely praised as a move toward equality, full benefits and their right to serve "without having to lie about who they are." In a speech Thursday at the Pentagon, Defense Secretary Ash Carter referenced the up to 15,000 transgender people now estimated to be serving silently, calling them "talented and trained Americans who are serving their country with honor and distinction (and) who’ve proven themselves.” Though many details of the shift remain to be worked out, advocates generally praised the change as "a matter of principle." Capt. Sage Fox, a U.S. Army Reserve officer who transitioned in 2012: "This is about equality, about civil rights, (about) recognizing the decency of human beings (and) that we are all equal."

So far, all good. Still, the Pentagon announcement was swathed in troubling language and murky on many details, including its plausibly bloody end goal. Chelsea Manning and other activists rightly questioned the laying down of sometimes random conditions for serving. More alarmingly, it's hard not to raise a skeptical eye at the Pentagon's bellicose wording given the likely rise to power of Hillary Clinton, the "hawk's hawk" who never met a U.S.- funded, often-recklessly-rationalized war she didn't like. In his speech, Carter cited the military's need "to avail ourselves of all talent possible in order to remain what we are now - the finest fighting force the world has ever known.” He insisted, “We don’t want barriers unrelated to a person’s qualification to serve preventing us from recruiting or retaining the soldier (who) can best accomplish the mission," without - no surprise here - expressing any interest in questioning that mission, its underlying lies about American exceptionalism, or its last 15 years of disastrous results. Saving the scariest for last, he intoned, "We have to have access to 100% of America's population." For what, the attentive among us really should ask. When we do, these "milestones" - A person with a vagina may finally oversee our drone assassination program! - can kinda pale.

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