Lifting transgender military ban is significant but leaves issues to resolve, social policy expert says

June 29, 2016 by George Diepenbrock, University of Kansas

As the U.S. military prepares to lift its prohibition on transgender service members, a University of Kansas researcher who studies social change in the military said there could be several obstacles to address after the ban ends.

However, Don Haider-Markel, professor and chair of the KU Department of Political Science, said the shift also signals another important recent victory for advocates of the transgender movement.

"This decision flows pretty naturally from the decision to open combat positions to women. There are a variety of logistical issues to resolve, but as with the decisions on women, gays and lesbians, the biggest hindrance to implementation is misinformation and outright discrimination," Haider-Markel said. "This is a historic decision for the trans movement and builds more momentum to shifting broader public attitudes."

Haider-Markel co-edited the book "Transgender Rights and Politics: Groups, Issue Framing & Policy Adoption." C-SPAN's Book TV in a 2015 segment featured the research. His scholarship and teaching focuses on the representation of interests in the policy process and the dynamics between public opinion, political behavior and public policy. He has more than 20 years of experience in survey research, interviews and in policy studies. He has authored or co-authored more than 50 journal articles, more than a dozen book chapters and several books in a range of issue areas, including civil rights, race and inequality, religion and the culture wars, criminal justice policy, counterterrorism and environmental policy.

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