Allyson Robinson on Transgender Americans and Military Service: Three Futures

When: March 3, 2014 at noon

Where: Harvard Law School, Wasserstein Hall 1015


Please join us at this landmark event, sponsored by Harvard Law School’s Armed Forces Association and Lambda, as well as Harvard Law School Milbank Fund!!

Last year brought profound change to U.S. military culture, particularly in regard to gender and sexuality. The combat exclusion for women came to an abrupt end. Lesbian, gay, and bisexual Americans edged closer to truly equal service with the fall of the Defense of Marriage Act. Victims of sexual assault in the military brought Congressional attention to bear on the problem for the first time.

Despite all this momentous change, the military’s policy of barring qualified transgender people from serving has gone unadressed, at least officially. Yet from the hallways of the Pentagon to the hills of Afghanistan, military and civilian leaders are beginning to recognize that the time has come to review the policy. Some, both in and out of uniform, are organizing to change it.

Building on her experience as a West Point graduate, a military commander, and an LGBT civil rights advocate, former Army Captain Allyson Robinson will examine the policy as it exists today and efforts to bring it up to date with medical advances and the more inclusive practices of U.S. allies. She’ll then lay out three possible futures for advocates’ work to change the policy: the quick, quiet victory; the sequential series of skirmishes; and the protracted battle of attrition.

More about Allyson Robinson:

As principal of her own boutique consulting firm, Warrior Poet Strategies, Allyson Robinson advises select clients in organizational design, change strategy, diversity management, and movement entrepreneurship. In the past she led internal and external diversity initiatives at the Human Rights Campaign, the nation’s largest LGBT civil rights organization, where she conceived, created, and launched the organization’s social enterprise to train large organizations in diversity and inclusion. She later became the first transgender person to lead a national LGBT advocacy organization as executive director of OutServe-SLDN. In that role, she conceived and coordinated the public vetting of Secretary of Defense nominee Chuck Hagel on LGBT issues, getting him to make a decisive, written commitment to equality prior to his confirmation. She’s also served as an Army officer and an ordained Baptist pastor, studied at West Point, Oxford University, and Arizona State, and earned degrees in physics and theology.