In 2021, the Pentagon enacted a policy effectively banning discrimination against soldiers, sailors, marines, and airmen who identified as transgender. The policy concluded, in part that “open service by transgender persons who are subject to the same high standards and procedures as other Service members with regard to medical fitness for duty, physical fitness, uniform and grooming standards, deployability, and retention is consistent with military service and readiness," While this decision was welcomed by those transgender individuals currently serving, it was too little, too late for those who quietly served fearing retaliation or harassment prior to DoD’s change in policy. While the terms gay and bisexual are widely understood by most people, the same cannot be said of individuals who identify as transgender or transsexual. Many in the military establishment tend to lump these individuals under the gay banner and fail to understand that identifying as transgender or transsexual has little to do with sexual orientation but has everything to do with gender identity.
The museum invites you to join in on a moderated intergenerational panel discussion where active duty and retired military transgender individuals talk about their experiences pre and post-2021 and reflect on how they believe the new policy helps or hinders the military’s efforts in being a more inclusive institutional body.
About the Moderator: James ‘Jay’ Stilipec is a retired naval Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class (SW/AW) originally from San Diego, California. In their 20-year career, they served overseas at AFN Rota, Spain; AFN Keflavik, Iceland; AFN Misawa, Japan; and AFN Afghanistan. They served aboard USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70) during Operation Desert Fox and decommissioned USS Nassau (LHA 4) after its final deployment off the Horn of Africa. Additionally, they trained more than 1000 new Sailors as a Recruit Division Commander at Navy Boot Camp. Their final assignment was to the Defense Media Activity (DMA), where they worked as Lead News Anchor for All Hands Update; Caption Editor for the Chief of Naval Information (CHINFO); and Leading Petty Officer at the headquarters of the American Forces Radio and Television Service (AFRTS).
After retiring, Jay stayed at the DMA as a writer for the Joint Hometown News Service and Assistant Operations Manager for AFN. They then spent four years at DINFOS where they served as a Mass Communication instructor. In 2021, Jay began teaching 9th and 10th grade English at the REACH! Partnership School in Baltimore.
They have a Bachelor's Degree in Communications from Thomas Edison State University.