ROTC Press Release

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Friday, January 21st, 2011
Alok Vaid-Menon—979-209-4005 (cell) or


Stanford Students Continue To Fight Return of ROTC Due to Transgender Discrimination

Even with Repeal of” Don’t Ask Don’t Tell”, Transgender Individuals are still barred from Military Service


Palo Alto, CA.– Several student organizations have launched a new campaign against the return of ROTC to college campuses in light of the repeal of DADT due to their policy of discrimination towards transgender service members. The National Marriage Boycott, the largest national youth-led LGBT rights organization, has called for youth activists on college campuses that include gender identity in their non-discrimination clause to oppose the introduction or return of ROTC to their institutions. On the campus of Stanford University “Students for Queer Liberation”, an LGBTQ rights group, is currently lobbying Stanford administration and organizing against the return of ROTC to campus.

“Now, more than ever, is the time for college students across the country to take a stand and organize against transgender discrimination, an issue that has been historically ignored by the mainstream gay rights agenda”  said Alok Vaid-Menon, President of Stanford Students for Queer Liberation. “A re-introduction of ROTC on college campuses (including Stanford, Harvard, and Columbia) that include ‘gender identity’ in their non-discrimination clause is a fundamental violation of policy and an endorsement of discrimination.”

The Military Leadership Diversity Commission issued the recommendation of a ban on transgender service member as part of a draft report on diversity in the services. The final report is due to lawmakers this spring and commission members are meeting this week in Virginia to debate final changes.

This treatment of transsexual service members was recently highlighted in the Washington Post article titled “Transgender Vets Want Military Access For Own” telling the story of First Class Autumn Sandeen and her trials as a trans-women veteran.

The National Marriage Boycott is a youth-led grassroots movement determined to create a world where everyone, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity, can live with dignity and security. NMB mobilizes youth activists at college campuses across the country to become involved in the struggle for LGBTQ equality. You can learn more about NMB at or on Facebook at


An open letter to administrators, activists, legislators, and other stakeholders in the issue of transgender discrimination and ROTC:

We are writing on behalf of Stanford Students for Queer Liberation (SSQL) and the Harvard Transgender Task Force (TTF) to express our concern with the conflation of the debates on Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) and Don’t Ask Don’t Tell (DADT). No doubt, the repeal of DADT was a historic moment for a great number of lesbian, gay, and bisexual service members who have been and continue to be part of the military. We are alarmed, however, that the repeal of this legislation has been used to justify a possible re-introduction of ROTC at Harvard University and we fear that other universities, including Stanford, might use a similar logic, without considering the ongoing issue of de jure discrimination against transgender individuals.

In the debate over ROTC, both sides seem to have forgotten about transgender students, who will still face explicitly discriminatory policies in the military, and by extension, in ROTC.  Transgender status or a Gender Identity Disorder (GID) diagnosis alone can disqualify a person from open military service.  The Uniform Code of Military Justice does not allow transgender individuals to serve openly, even with the DADT repeal in place. The military’s Anti-Harassment Plan also fails to protect individuals against harassment targeted toward a person’s gender identity. Various military bureaucratic entities including DD-214 forms in the military, the Defense Enrollment Eligibility Reporting System, and the Defense Finance and Accounting Service, do not contain provisions to alter gender (from male to female or vice versa).  Furthermore, numerous Veterans Affairs medical services including prostate exams, pap smears, and mammograms are routinely denied to transgender veterans.

Currently the ROTC program is not an affirming, or even open, option for transgender students. A re-introduction of ROTC, therefore, constitutes a violation of both Stanford and Harvard’s non-discrimination clauses and the statutes of any other universities that protect against discrimination on the basis of gender identity. We are writing to ask for a statement of your support for campuses that decide against reintroducing ROTC programs on the basis of transgender exclusion. We realize this is not an easy decision to make, but we feel partnering against such open injustices is essential to upholding our mutual investment in equal opportunity.

Stanford Students for Queer Liberation

Harvard Transgender Task Force