By Capt. Allison Farres, 184th IW SARC
May ancillary training provided information on transgender service members and the considerations for this population. As our Air Force evolves, it is important to have an understanding of the different cultures around us.
LGBTQ Airmen represent a vulnerable population, particularly regarding sexual violence. Their risk for sexual or physical assault is greater, even within military environments. Transgender individuals face additional challenges, as they are more vulnerable to sexual violence than any other population. After an assault, LGBTQ survivors face additional challenges. Many may not seek help for fear of being outed or blamed. It can also be difficult to find resources that provide culturally competent services, particularly in smaller communities.
Although discussion on gender identity and sexual orientation can be uncomfortable or confusing, we must remember our values and expectations as a professional organization. Thinking back to the Continuum of Harm, sexual violence begins by degrading and dehumanizing individuals. When we joke about someone’s gender identity or sexual orientation, we create an environment where they are not protected, or an environment in which they feel they would not be supported after an act of violence.
As good wingmen and as professionals, we have an obligation to ensure those around us feel supported and valued. Failing to do so has detrimental effects on our people and our mission. The best way to begin facilitating this kind of environment is through education. Knowing the different terms and concepts related to gender and sexual orientation are important to understanding LGBTQ issues. Predators count on us being uncomfortable, because we are more likely to ignore issues that make us uncomfortable, leaving our wingmen more vulnerable.
The 184th SAPR office, in the name of prevention and mission effectiveness, encourages you to ask questions and learn more about the diverse Airmen around you.