The Secretary of the Army is the senior civilian official responsible for all matters relating to the Army, including manpower, personnel, reserve affairs, equipment acquisition and financial management.
Like many other senior positions in his administration, President Donald Trump’s pick has yet to be confirmed by the Senate. Army veteran Colonel (ret.) Sheri Swokowski hopes he never is.
In a Washington Post article, Swokowski details why Trump’s pick, Mark Green, is bad news for LGBT service personnel, and the Army in general.
Green, a state Senator for Tennessee, has actively targeted LGBT Americans with deliberately discriminatory legislation. He introduced legislation that would allow businesses to discriminate against LGBT people, while at a Town Hall he openly suggested defying to Supreme Court ruling that upheld gay marriage.
He has also argued that being transgender “is a disease.”
This last comment is personal for Swokowski, who is transgender herself, and had to hide her true identity for years during her service when ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ was still in effect.
Swokowski argues that Green is “the wrong choice to be army secretary.” Alongside the aforementioned anti-LGBT views, Swokowski notes:
Leading the Army requires an appreciation for every individual, without exception, and Green wouldn’t have the confidence of the thousands of LGBT soldiers proudly and openly serving today. Every soldier needs to know that those at the top, uniformed and civilian, have their back. But based on the way he has used anti-LGBT politics to advance his career, that’s not him.
And his views put him at odds with the Department of Defense, which values its diversity and has been a leading organization in advancing equality. Years before marriage equality became the law of the land, the Pentagon supported ending “don’t ask, don’t tell.”…LGBT soldiers play an integral part in the defense of our nation and have since our founding. I know from personal experience that serving authentically only improves individual performance and, thus, enhances unit readiness. A RAND Corp. study conducted last year found that the impact, specifically, of transgender service members serving openly would have a minimal impact on readiness and costs.
Swokowski then completely eviscerates Green’s horrible and outdated views on LGBT issues in mere sentences.
Retiring as a full-bird colonel, I’m one of the highest-ranking publicly out transgender veterans in the country. During my two-and-a-half years as a Pentagon civilian analyst, I was identified as an exceptional performer and was known for the skills I brought to the table. I worked with former Army secretaries and their staffs. As a former human resources director for two federal agencies, I can attest to the value of an inclusive workforce. In and out of the military, what matters isn’t an individual’s orientation or identity, but whether they can do the job. The fact that three women have earned the prestigious Army Rangers tab and greater numbers of women are becoming infantry officers is proof ability knows no gender.
To be effective and maintain a competitive edge, organizations must be willing to learn and evolve. To do that, leaders must recognize advances and implement change accordingly. As a physician, I suspect Green accepted and incorporated medical advances and new protocols that were in the best interest of his patients. But based on his repeated attacks on the LGBT community, he doesn’t seem capable of evolving and accepting all service members as equals.
The Army follows a clear chain of command, and the tone is set from the top. Army leadership matters, and confirming Green to be secretary of the Army would send a very clear, very wrong, signal: LGBT soldiers are not welcome. By nominating Green, Trump has shown his true colors on LGBT issues, and if U.S. senators vote to confirm Green, they will have done the same.
Swokowski concludes her article with a stunning “mic drop moment” when she adds:
Oh, and Sen. Green, I’m not diseased.
This article should leave no doubt in the minds of its readers that LGBT soldiers make a valuable contribution to the armed forces. Swokowski is living proof of that.
If homophobes like Green make their way to the top of the command chain, it will not only affect pro-LGBT progress being made within the Armed Forces but could affect combat readiness as thousands of LGBT service members could reconsider their commitment to an organization who’s leader thinks they’re mentally ill.
As Swokowski states, it doesn’t matter if you’re gay or straight, trans or cis, at the end of the day what should matter is whether or not you can do your job.
Green is yet another of Trump’s disastrous picks for senior government positions, and further proof that the President doesn’t give a damn about LGBT Americans.
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