Change the Selective Service requirement for Transgender and nonbinary Individuals
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I am a 24-year-old transgender nonbinary individual born biologically male. I reside in the Portland metro area here in Oregon. I am living at home with family who is low-income, so I have limited resources when it comes to getting vocational opportunities. I am totally blind and hard-of-hearing. Although I am petitioning a problem that has been around for a long time, I am not arguing on the basis of disability.
About six years ago, when I graduated high school and attempted to get federal student aid through the FAFSA web-site in the fall of 2012, I was informed by a community college financial aid office that I wouldn’t be able to make progress until I had registered with selective service.
What is Selective Service?
The Military Selective Service Act, passed and signed on May 18, 1917, was designed to require people who identify as male, or are assigned male at birth to register upon reaching the age of 18 and no later than their twenty-sixth birthday.
Why did Congress pass this law, and why did they only require males to register?
At the time that this went into effect, people who identified as female had little freedom to work outside the house and perform manual labour. At that time, it was believed that females were incapable of fulfilling combat roles the way males could. So, the military began putting restriction on these roles for females.
Given the ten major wars we fought, our country has developed strategies to call people to do their duty for Uncle Sam, even if they didn't agree with it. Failure to register for Selective Service would result in a huge fine, or five years imprisonment.
Also, considering the recent wars in Vietnam and Korea, some people expressed their beliefs that the draft has been overused rather than being reserved for actual emergencies. Although this is my opinion, I feel that we as a country have lost almost every good value today. The only thing we're good at is war.
If there hasn't been a draft in a long time, why should males still have to register?
Certain benefits are gained by being registered for Selective Service. If you got a job at a federal government agency, you might be required to register for selective service. Likewise, if you attempted to get financial aid to attend college, you will most likely be required to register, as well.
Since I do not consider myself to be male, even though I am still considered to be male by the government, I decided, from this point forward, that I would boycott financial aid and other services that depend on Selective Service until they either A. Eliminate the selective service Act altogether, or B. Require that everyone sign up no matter what sex or gender they were assigned at birth.
Here's some of the problems we're dealing with, at the moment.
The federal government is still based on the gender binary. Oregon, and probably Washington, are two of the first states to legally recognise gender non-binary individuals. I changed my gender on my new state ID card to reflect this new law early this year.
The other problem is that this society, like most societies, is male-dominated, especially by cisgender heterosexual males, which means that this is probably going to be harder to fight.
Before making this petition, I attempted to find out whether I would have a legal argument to file litigation with the Selective Service or any other branch of the United States government on the basis that selecting, picking out, or subjecting a specific group of individuals on the basis of sex and gender constituted as discrimination, which is illegal in almost all jurisdictions. In this last round of contacting different legal organisations, an attorney informed me that this matter of a substantially similar nature has already been addressed by the United States Supreme court in the case of Rostker v. Goldberg, 448 U.S. 1306, 101 S.Ct. 1, 65 L.Ed.2d 1098 (1980).
This is part of what my attorney said.
At that time, the Court held in a six to three decision that Congress's decision to exempt women from registration 'was not the "accidental by-product of a traditional way of thinking about females"'. The Court found that men and women, because of combat restrictions on the latter, were not 'similarly situated' for the purposes of draft registration. The Court also upheld Congress's judgment that the administrative and military problems that would be created by drafting women for noncombat roles were sufficient to justify the Military Selective Service Act. Although the military has been relenting on this position in recent years, there is no legal precedent stating that the Constitution requires it to do so.
One of the members of the National Centre for Transgender and Intersex equality informed one of the queer resource centre's coordinators a year ago that there have been some effort made by congress to eliminate Selective Service, but as of today, it still remains unclear what the future will hold. They might either eliminate it, or expand the registration to females. They might forget about it and keep things as they are. I decided that if they weren't going to change this policy, we would have to petition them.
So, What's the next step?
I think that you (and I) as private citizens, should come together and make our voices heard and redefine what America was meant to be, a country where all human beings, not men, are created equal. The supreme court ruled in favour of same sex marriage in 2016, and as a result, people of the same sex can legally marry in all fifty states including the territories..
Judges have been working on blocking Trump’s attempts at banning transgender service members from joining the military. We would need to work at lifting the combat restrictions on female soldiers so Congress would be forced to reconsider mandatory registrations for everybody.
The only time people should be excluded or exempted is if they were full-time parents or if they had a disability or chronic illness, but it should never be based on gender or sex. Those belong in the nineteenth century, and it's already the twenty-first century. A little over a hundred-one years and we're still dealing with this problem.
If we can change this for future LGBTQIA community, you can help me out by being one of the first to help make change to allow anyone, not just transgender individuals, who are male or were assigned male at birth, to attend the college of their choice and receive financial student aid, if they can't afford paying for college, without having to worry that they will have to sign up for selective service simply because they were told that only males are required to register. If Selective Service is here to stay, then people should get assurance that everyone would be required to register. If jury duty does not discriminate on the basis of sex or gender, Selective Service ought to be the same.
I had a great chance to go to college and pursue a career in biotechnology to help develop new methods for transgender reproduction and reassignment several years ago, but because of this unequal treatment and ideologies I disagree with, all of my plans came to naught. I don't want others in my position to experience what I went through. For now, I plan to make a living by being an advocate for my people and my community.
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