The US military has done an about-face on gender and sexuality policy over the last decade, ending Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, restrictions on women in combat, and transgender exclusion. Contrary to expectations, servicemembers have largely welcomed cisgender LGB individuals—yet they continue to vociferously resist trans inclusion and the presence of women on the front lines. In the minds of many, the embodied “deficiencies” of cisgender women and trans people of all genders puts others—and indeed, the nation—at risk.
In this book, Cati Connell identifies the homonormative bargain that underwrites these uneven patterns of reception—a bargain that comes with significant concessions, upholding and even exacerbating race, class, and gender inequality in the pursuit of sexual equality. In this handshake deal, even the widespread support for open LGB service is highly conditional, revocable upon violation of the bargain. Despite the promise of inclusivity, in practice, the military has made room only for a “few good gays,” to the exclusion of all others.
But should equal access be the goal? How did we get from there to here? And where do we go next? In analyzing inclusion as a social movement aspiration, Connell shows that its steep price is exacted through the continued abjection of queered Others, both at home and abroad.