Army Agrees to Issue New Discharge Record to Transgender Veteran

Tuesday, May 10, 2016
The Army Board for Correction of Military Records (ABCMR) agreed to change a transgender veteran’s discharge record to reflect her current legal name, an action that will help her get the benefits she has earned and reduce the likelihood she’ll face discrimination.  

The veteran served for more than seven years on active duty status. She enlisted in the Army in 1982 and was honorably discharged in 1989. She transitioned in the 1990s, but her Certificate of Release or Discharge from Active Duty, or DD Form 214, lists her former name. The ACLU of Washington represented the veteran in her request to obtain a corrected DD Form 214 reflecting her current name.

The DD Form 214 is a critical document used to determine a veteran’s eligibility for benefits and legal protections tied to military service. Veterans need this document to engage in a wide range of activities in public life, including securing a home loan, taking the bar exam, and applying for a job with an employer that gives veterans preference in hiring. 

“The possession of inconsistent identity documents creates a bureaucratic burden for transgender veterans seeking benefits and increases the risk that they will experience discrimination and harassment by being forced to disclose their transgender status,” said ACLU-WA staff attorney Margaret Chen.

An estimated 140,000 transgender veterans in the U.S. face barriers to obtaining benefits and privileges tied to military service because the names recorded on their discharge documents do not match their current legal names. Transgender veterans not only risk the denial of these many benefits because of inconsistencies on military forms, but also face invasive questions every time documents are presented.

The Army will void the veteran’s DD Form 214 and issue a new DD Form 214 reflecting her current name. “Considering the unique circumstances of transgender personnel, it would be appropriate to issue the applicant a new DD Form 214, as a matter of equity,” the ABCMR stated in its April 21 decision.

The new DD Form 214 will not indicate the form was re-issued or that any change was made. “Doing so would undermine the purpose of granting relief by drawing attention to her previous gender,” the ABCMR stated.

“Having a DD Form 214 that reflects one’s legal name and matches other identity documents is critical for ensuring equality for transgender veterans,” said the veteran. “I am proud to have served my country and am pleased with the Army’s decision that ensures that I will be able to access veteran benefits like other veterans.”
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