Sunday, June 23, 2013

Allyson Robinson Ousted As OutServe/SLDN Exec Director

Back in October I was happy to trumpet the news of Allyson Robinson's groundbreaking hiring as the executive director of the merged OutServe/SLDN.   Allyson also became at that time the first trans person ever to be hired as the head of a national Gay, Inc org whose primary focus is not centered on trans human rights issues. 

Today the trans community and our allies are stunned to hear the news via the Bilerico Project that after only nine months on the job Allyson Robinson has been ousted as the head of OutServe/SLDN after a board coup.  

A new executive director for an organization is usually given a year to immerse themselves in the culture of the organization and implement their policy and procedural direction, so this unexpected firing of Robinson triggered the resignations of OutServe/SLDN senior staff, several board members and growing outrage in the trans community. 

I've been wary of OutServe/SLDN based on how military transfolks got thrown under the Humvee in the runup to the 2010 DADT repeal and questions about their cultural competency to articulate the issues facing trans military personnel and veterans.  

It also revived the perception in the trans community that OutServe/SLDN only cares about GL military people and isn't on board with helping the trans community end the ban on trans military service so that we can openly serve in our country's military.

It also put a renewed spotlight on TAVA, the Transgender American Veterans Association and the status of the ten year old organization in the wake of founding president Monica Helms' recent retirement.

United States Military: Lift the Ban on Transgender People in the MilitaryIt also plays into the larger problem that Gay, Inc orgs are cricket chirping silent about in terms of the glaring lack of visible trans feminine leadership in their ranks and the suspicion of trans people that GL transphobia is playing a major role in that invisibility. 

Don't even get me started about the lack of trans women of color in Gay, Inc organizational ranks.

That perception is only going to ossify with this highly public dismissal of a groundbreaking trans leader and the ongoing turmoil and drama it has unleashed in its wake.

Robinson said at the time she was hired as the OutServe/SLDN executive director, "We cannot stop until we reach the day when all qualified Americans who wish to wear the uniform of our armed forces have the opportunity to do so with honor and integrity – and without fear of discrimination or harassment – whether they are gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender.”

Their ouster of Robinson after only nine months on the job leads the trans community to legitimately ask if there is rampant transphobia in the organization.   It also leads us to ask the more pertinent policy question of just how committed OutServe/SLDN is to the mission of ensuring that like GLB Americans, transgender Americans can serve their country with honor and distinction.

TransGriot Update:  Denise Brogan Kator was the first transperson to ever be hired as the ED for a Gay, Inc org not focused on trans human rights issues when she became the head of Equality Michigan. 

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