On October 11th, we observe the 26th annual National Coming Out Day, commemorated each year on the anniversary of the 1987 March on Washington for Lesbian and Gay Rights. National Coming Out Day gives us an opportunity to reflect on the importance of being able to live openly and honestly, both in our personal lives and in the workplace.
As an organization that advocates fiercely for the rights of our military Veterans, we call upon all of our military Veterans and allies to ask our civilian leadership to acknowledge the right of Transgender military personnel to serve openly, and honestly, as we have been trained to do. As a nation that stands for democracy and freedom for all, we cannot expect loyalty, candor and integrity to be a one way street for our military service members or rules that only apply when convenient.
For those of you who are not lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender (LGBT), it can be hard to imagine just how difficult it is to have to conceal one’s sexual orientation or gender identity at work. Imagine serving a nation in uniform that demands selfless service, duty to the country and personal sacrifice to be a cornerstone in your moral code, yet refuses to acknowledge your own personal burdens and medical needs. Imagine the frustration and aggravation of giving 100% to organizations that fail to acknowledge you even exist.
This is the reality for our Transgender service members.
So how can we all help? Raise awareness and improve your understanding of what it means to be LGBT. Consider joining TAVA, or attending a local pride event to learn more about LGBT issues. Be respectful and supportive when someone you know “comes out” to you, military Veteran or not. Chances are this is the hardest thing they will ever do.
If you are “out” as an LGBT Veteran or service member, thank you for your courage and your honesty, but most of all for your contributions to our great nation. By being open and honest, you are making a difference every day for those following in your footsteps and raising awareness among the public we serve.
In 2015, let’s make it our goal that any Soldier, Sailor, Airman or Marine that chooses to do so, can be “out” in uniform.
Continuing to Serve!
For more information and resources on coming out, see www.transveteran.org.