In early June 2015, Defense Secretary Ashton Carter announced the addition of “sexual orientation” as one of the classes protected by the Military Equal Opportunity Policy. The Policy is designed to protect military personnel from discrimination preventing them from being promoted to the highest possible levels in the Military.
The Pentagon previously included the classes of race, religion, sex, age and national origin as protected classes but did not protect gay and lesbian military personnel. The amended Policy finally brings the Military into line with other federal branches and agencies.
While the new policy includes “sexual orientation,” Secretary Carter did not speak of the Pentagon’s ban on transgender military personnel. There are supposedly more than 15,000 transgender individuals in the U. S. military at this time, serving without revealing their transgenderism. Secretary Carter discretely referred to the transgender topic by stating, “Discrimination of any kind has no place in America’s armed forces. Young Americans today are more diverse and tolerant than past generations. It’s the only way to compete in the 21st century.”
Meanwhile, some transgender individuals braved the consequences by showing up at Military functions, such as: Amanda Simpson, a transgender civilian officer; and Sheri Swokowski, America’s highest-ranking transgender veteran.
Amanda Simpson is the Executive Director of the U.S. Army Office of Energy Initiatives, spearheading the Army’s implementation of large-scale renewable energy ventures. She is the first openly transgender female political appointee of any Presidential administration.
Swokowski is a retired U. S. Army Colonel who served as an infantry soldier for nearly 34 years as a male. After Swokowski transition to female 8 years ago, she lost her job as a government contractor and head instructor at the Army Force Management School. Swokowski then served as a senior Pentagon analyst for 2 ½ years and as regional Human Relations Director with the U. S. Forest Service for 3 years.
As Secretary Carter stated, the Military must welcome “diversity and inclusion” in order to maintain the military force of the future.
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