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Zoe DuttonElizabeth Yang
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Lt Col Fram reflected on her personal experience of acceptance within the DOD by emphasizing her experience of being valued and accepted by her colleagues. Lt Col Fram came out as transgender on the day that the transgender ban was dropped by DOD in 2016. Although nervous and apprehensive, Lt Col Fram was floored as each colleague, one by one, came up to her and stated, “It’s an honor to serve with you.”

Allyship for the transgender community is centered on the concept of leading with intentional inclusivity, which can look like a commander sharing why an inclusive environment is valuable and how such an environment enables the unit to have the best people and talent, regardless of gender or orientation.

The military is used to seeing vulnerability as a weakness; rather, it should be viewed as a reflective symbol of one’s ability to lead and their willingness to invest in relationships to open up pathways for connection with individuals. Intentionally reaching out helps someone understand your humanity and desire for connection.

DOD is stronger when people are able to bring their full selves to their jobs and do not need to hide their identities. While Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell was in place, many LGBT individuals felt limited in their ability to fully contribute—Lt Col Fram reflected, “I can be good at what I do, and even great, but when I have to hold back even that little bit, that limits my potential to just how good I can be.”

A wide range of stereotypes exist about transgender people in the military. Lt Col Fram was told that she broke a colleague’s stereotype of transgender people just by showing up every day and doing her job. Lt Col Fram is cognizant that many more stereotypes need to be shattered and encourages others to do so by pushing forward and simply showing up and doing their assigned mission task better than what is expected.

Dr. Embser-Herbert added that when they served in the DOD, gender-based harassment and abuse were largely tolerated and that such harassment and abuse remains a significant issue to this day. They highlighted that although the DOD does not always reflect a positive view of gender diversity, DOD leadership understands that the world is moving forward and that they need to move with it. We can recognize and celebrate progress today without conflating it with acceptance of the past.

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  • Pages: 1
  • Document Number: CCP-2022-U-032227-Final
  • Publication Date: 3/1/2022
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