Furthering Transgender Civil Rights in the Military

By Jolee L. Al-Villar

I made history as a pioneer woman in the Air Force. I am the second woman to successfully transition from male-to-female in the entire history of the United States Air Force, while on-the-job in the Air Force Research Laboratory at Kirtland Air Force Base.

I am the first woman in the entire history of the United States Air Force to file a federal transgender discrimination lawsuit against the United States Air Force.

We in the Department of Defense, at the war fighter level, have a saying, “If you identify a problem, you also have to identify the solution and if you can’t identify the solution, then you are part of the problem.”

I fulfilled my Department of Defense commitment and obligation. I identified the problem and put the spotlight on the problem of transgender discrimination. I identified the solution, and filed a lawsuit to bring about change that would allow transgender individuals to serve in the military.

I affected change. I took on Washington and filed a federal civil lawsuit, see Al-Villar v. Donley Civil no. 12-0896 JB/CG. The Air Force requested to settle with me, right before the chain of command was to be deposed. As a result, the Department of Defense now allows, authorizes and permits transgender men (female-to-male) and transgender women (male-to-female) to serve in the Department of Defense.

One voice, one person is all it takes to effect change! Many of us in the transgender community individually initiated action on our own, using our individual voices to advance the transgender civil rights movement. Semper Fidelis.

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