Fort McCoy News June 23, 2017

Panel members discuss Army regulations

during LGBT Pride Month

STORY & PHOTO BY AIMEE MALONE
Public Affairs Staff

The Fort McCoy community celebrated Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) Pride Month with a panel discussion June 15 at McCoy's Community Center.

Five Fort McCoy professionals served as panel members: Lt. Col. Ralph Cromley, detailed inspector general with the 88th Regional Support Command (RSC); Maj. Marcie Fulford, division surgeon with the 86th Training Division; Toby McCoy, chief of Labor/Management Employee Relations at the Civilian Personnel Advisory Center; Chaplain (Maj.) Dawn Siebold, training and resource manager with the 88th RSC Chaplains Office; and Lt. Col. Lance Von Ah, command judge advocate for Fort McCoy Garrison. The panel was moderated by Heather Barrett, Equal Employment Opportunity manager with the U.S. Army Reserve Command.

The 2017 theme for the Department of Defense's LGBT Pride Month was "Pride in All Who Serve." The Fort McCoy panel focused primarily on transgender issues, in deference to the 2016 decision to allow transgender Soldiers to serve openly in all branches of the service.

Heather Barrett (right), Equal Employment Opportunity manager with the U.S. Army Reserve Command, asks panel members a question during the 2017 Fort McCoy Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Pride Month observance June 15 at McCoy’s Community Center.
Heather Barrett (right), Equal Employment Opportunity manager with
the U.S. Army Reserve Command, asks panel members a question during
the 2017 Fort McCoy Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Pride Month
observance June 15 at McCoy's Community Center.



Panel members for the 2017 Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Pride Month observance listen while Maj. Marcie Fulford (center), division surgeon with the 86th Training Division, answers a question June 15, 2017, at McCoy’s Community Center. The 2017 theme for the Department of Defense’s LGBT Pride Month was “Pride in All Who Serve.” (U.S. Army Photo by Aimee Malone, Public Affairs Office, Fort McCoy, Wis.)
Panel members for the 2017 Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender
Pride Month observance listen while Maj. Marcie Fulford (center),
division surgeon with the 86th Training Division, answers a question June
15 at McCoy's Community Center.

Fulford said that while researching the questions for the discussion, she was surprised to discover how many transgender people serve or have served in the military. According to the Human Rights Campaign, there are more than 134,000 transgender veterans. And about 15,000 transgender service members are enlisted in the military today, according to Service Members, Partners, Allies for Respect and Tolerance for All.

The recurring theme throughout the discussion was that it is important to treat all Soldiers with dignity and respect, regardless of gender identity, sexual orientation, or other inherent traits.

"We may all have our own personal views on religion and politics, … but once we put this uniform on, all that has to … remain internal," Cromley said. "Once we put on the uniform, we all become Soldiers, and we all share the same Army values."

McCoy also said that dignity, respect, and fairness are key to navigating questions about LGBT issues and policies.

"If we focus on merit rather than on personal opinion, bias, or perspective, most of the time, we're going to come out with the right answer," he said.

McCoy said the primary difference between Department of Defense (DOD) policy and Office of Personnel Management (OPM) policy is that service members must be diagnosed with gender dysphoria, which is "a conflict between a person's physical or assigned gender and the gender with which he/she/they identify," according to the American Psychiatric Association. After a service member has been diagnosed with gender dysphoria, an appropriate medical plan can be pursued, and the person's gender marker can be changed in the Defense Enrollment Eligibility Reporting System, McCoy said.

However, civilian personnel, who fall under OPM policy, do not need to be diagnosed and may self-identify as transgender, McCoy said. Civilians are not required to change their gender markers.

Von Ah said commanders can be mindful of DOD policy and help transitioning transgender Soldiers — and their fellow Soldiers — adjust by making reasonable accommodations as needed or requested for things such as privacy. However, he said it's also important to make sure a transgender Soldier isn't isolated or singled out because of these accommodations.

Fulford said education of both civilians and Soldiers will be key to giving the new policy a smooth transition.

"The biggest goal of education is making sure everybody is on the same page and that we are providing the same treatment we'd provide any Soldier," Fulford said.

McCoy said he thought it was important that people realize that their coworkers or unit members may be members of the LGBT community without broadcasting it, and it doesn't change their ability to do their jobs or contribute to the mission. "I think it's important to recognize there are noble examples of who are going about the business of the military without regard to their sexual orientation (or gender identity)," McCoy said.

The LGBT Pride Month observance was coordinated by the Equal Opportunity adviser. For more information about Equal Opportunity observances, call 608-388-6153.