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Australian trans* military research reaches international audience

2015 11 29 USA ForumWeb

DEFGLIS researcher partners Dr Noah Riseman and Dr Shirleene Robinson recently spoke about trans* military service in the Australian Defence Force at the Inter-University Seminar on Armed Forces and Society in Chicago.

The panel brought together scholars from the United States, Canada and Australia to discuss respective policies and experiences of transgender Defence members. As the United States re-evaluates its own policies on transgender military service, the seminor sought the experiences of other nations which have permitted transgender men and women to serve openly and transition in the workplace.

Dr Alan Okros of the Canadian Forces College spoke about Canada’s gradual reform process since lifting the ban on transgender along with lesbian, gay and bisexual service in 1992.

From Colorado College, Dr Jim Parco discussed issues confronting the United States military, drawing on the recent transition experience of a civilian Defence employee to highlight possible approaches the United States military could consider as part of reforms to permit transgender service.

Riseman and Robinson's presentations traced the history of ADF policies on transgender service from the first time it was discussed publically in 1996, through to the implementation of Defence Instruction (Personnel) 16-16 formally banning transgender service in 2000, through to its repeal in 2010.

They also discussed post-2010 developments, such as a policy vacuum, the encroaching medicalised approach to transgender service and a new health directive which medically downgrades members undergoing transition and is not clear about whether clinically-indicated medical interventions necessary to relieve gender dysphoria will be provided to members with gender dysphoria.

Interviews with current and former transgender Defence members formed the basis for a discussion about issues including transphobia, the role of rank and varying degrees of institutional and personal support.

Riseman said that it was striking how many parallels there are between the Australian and Canadian histories and experiences, and the next step will be to submit this research for publication.

Dr Riseman and Dr Robsinon are lead researchers along with Dr Graham WIllett of the Australian Gay and Lesbian Archives for the research project  ‘Serving in Silence? Australian LGBTI Military Service since 1945.’ Anyone interested in participating in research can contact the team This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

A full-time PhD scholarship opportunity through the Australian Catholic University is also available - appliations close on 15 Jan.

Pictured above: Dr Alan Okros, Dr Shirleene Robinson, Dr Noah Riseman and Dr James Parco (Colorado College) at the Inter-University Seminar on Armed Forces and Society in Chicago 2015.


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