A Department of Defense panel full of sexual minorities came to the conclusion Wednesday that diversity makes the military stronger.
Amanda R. Simpson, deputy assistant secretary of defense for operational energy, and a transgender person, was included in the group of LGBT individuals present at the National Defense University panel. Simpson is the highest-ranking transgender official in the government open about his new identity.
President Barack Obama invited Simpson to join the administration seven years ago. Simpson insisted that Obama did not choose the position because he transitioned from male to female, even though Obama has made it a point in his administration to place a large number of racial and sexual minorities in positions of power.
“I was recognized as having the capabilities and the skills to manage people [and] complex situations,” Simpson said.
“As Secretary [Ash] Carter noted last year, I was chosen for my current position as the deputy assistant secretary of defense because I was the best person available for that job,” Simpson added.
Air Force Maj. Gen. Patricia Rose, a lesbian, contributed to the discussion by arguing her “authentic self” allowed her to become a better leader.
“Now that I am allowed to be my authentic self, I believe that has only added to my value as a military member and as a leader,” she said. “One of the most potent tools in our arsenal is our diversity,” she added.
“It validates that there is one inherent trait that we all possess and that our institutes benefit from, and that’s the diversity in each person’s unique background and experience,” Rose said.
The Pentagon, according to recent reports, is weeks away from advancing on the next step of diversity in the military, namely by repealing the ban on transgender individuals.
“Senior leaders across the services and the (Defense) Department have met recently to consider some of the remaining key issues and are progressing quickly toward submitting recommendations to the Secretary,” Pentagon spokesman Eric Pahon said, according to USA Today. “We acknowledge this process has taken some time, and that there are those that would like to see a policy decision immediately.”
Existing policy bans servicemembers with gender dysphoria from serving, mostly because gender dysphoria is a condition with a high comorbidity rate, meaning that the presence of dysphoria is indicative of other severe mental health issues, as well.
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