World’s highest ranking trans military officer gives passionate speech

Illustrated rainbow pride flag on a pink background.

Cate McGregor spoke about transitioning in the military and the support she had received.

She is currently the Director of Research and Analysis in the Office of the Chief of the Royal Australian Air Force and the most senior transgender military officer in the world. She is also a well known cricket fan and commentator, having written a book on the power of sport.

She transitioned in 2012, at the age of 56, while serving in the Australian Army. Her commanding officers refused to accept her resignation when she came out.

In a speech in Canberra she spoke about living with gender dysphoria.

She said: “I functioned as a male until a few weeks after my 56th birthday. I choose the term “functioned” advisedly, because my relationship to my birth gender was fraught from a very young age.

“Indeed, it has only been since I gave myself permission to function in the world as I felt inside, that I appreciated the full depth of the anxiety and conflict which I had carried through a lifetime of trying to live up to the expectations of others.

“It never occurred to me that my life would be as rich and fulfilling as it is today.”

She also mentioned her surprise at the positive reactions and support she had received. Prime Minister Tony Abbot positively reviewed the book she released in 2012, calling it “a fitting salute to courage”.

“Reactions to gender variance in my experience do not conform to stated ideological affiliations. I find the reluctance of some in the human rights and gender lobbies to acknowledge exactly what Tony Abbott did quite puzzling.

“Very few trans women receive either the support or exposure I have. That offends some, and for that I’m sorry. I know how fortunate I have been in having such influential supporters.

“I only hope media interest in me raises awareness that, in some way, improves the status of trans people wherever they live and work.”
 The United States is currently looking into repealing its ban on trans people serving in the military.