U.S. AIR FORCE ACADEMY, Colo. - In the wake of policy changes this year from the president and Defense Department, the Air Force Academy created a Transgender Working Group to raise awareness and understanding of transgender Airmen, Guardians and cadets at the school.
Doctor Joseph Looney, the Academy’s chief diversity, equity and inclusion officer, said the number of requests from across the base to support the Transgender Working Group has been “overwhelming.” Looney holds a doctorate of counseling psychology from Arizona State University
“Along with organizational representation, the team has a cadet representative from the Spectrum club, and the invaluable participation of a transgender Airman,” he said. “We’re committed to supporting transgender Airmen and cadets.”
President Joe Biden signed an executive order in January and Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin directed the DOD to ensure all individuals are eligible to serve in their self-identified gender.
According to Biden’s order, “All Americans qualified to serve in the Armed Forces of the United States (“Armed Forces”) should be able to serve. The All-Volunteer Force thrives when it is composed of diverse Americans who can meet the rigorous standards for military service, and an inclusive military strengthens our national security.”
Dominic Angiollo, an attorney at the Academy, said the working group brings a multidisciplinary approach to implementing the policy and includes diverse personnel with professional experience concerning transgender service.
“Our Transgender Working Group hopes to achieve a smooth roll out of the policy, where transgender Airmen and cadets are provided support, treated with dignity and respect, and can fully contribute to enhancing our mission,” he said.
Under the new policy, and with the care of a medical provider, Airmen and cadets have an official process to transition their gender while serving if certain requirements are met.
“We need to create inclusive command climates, where all Airmen and Guardians can bring their whole selves to work, feel valued and fully contribute to the mission,” Looney said. “Ultimately, I hope the working group provides a smooth policy transition and that we work ourselves out of a job when this policy is simply adapted into our existing culture of dignity and respect.”
The Spectrum Club is a club for LGBTQ cadets at the Academy.
The Transgender Working Group met for the first time April 27.