U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, Chair of the Senate Armed Services Personnel Subcommittee, sent a letter to the Pentagon requesting actions to streamline and expedite the process for name change requests on military discharge documentation for transgender veterans.
“Individuals who are willing to put on the uniform of our country and risk their lives to defend our freedoms should be received with commendation, not prejudice. We must no longer permit harmful and discriminatory behavior against transgender service members,” said Senator Gillibrand. “Veterans who transition after leaving the service should be empowered to update their DD-214 with their correct legal name without delay or repercussions. I am urging swift implementation of these protections for name change requests so that every service member can obtain identification that aligns with their identity.”
Currently, the military services take as long as 18 months to update the name on the military discharge Form DD-214. The DD-214 is frequently requested by potential employers, government agencies, and others seeking to verify an individual’s record of military service. During this period, transgender veterans who have transitioned genders and legally changed their names are put in a situation where they may have to explain why their name on their discharge documentation does not match other identification, potentially subjecting them to discrimination and prejudice. Senator Gillibrand’s letter asks Secretary Austin to work with the military services to establish processes to ensure that these name change requests are processed within 90 days of the filing.
Senator Gillibrand is a longtime champion of anti-discrimination protections in the military. In 2017, Gillibrand and U.S. Senators Susan Collins (R-ME) and Jack Reed (D-RI) joined the late Senator John McCain to introduce a bipartisan bill that would protect transgender service members by preventing the Department of Defense from removing currently serving members of the Armed Forces based solely on their gender identity and introduced similar legislation in 2019. Serving previously as Ranking Member of the Senate Armed Services Personnel Subcommittee, Gillibrand repeatedly pressed U.S. military leaders on trans service members’ ability to serve and is fighting for an anti-discrimination amendment to NDAA that would prevent future presidents from implementing a trans service ban.