OutServe-SLDN Taps Trans Veteran as Executive Director
By Jonathan Mills
ORLANDO — Activist and veteran Allyson Robinson will be the new executive director of OutServe-SLDN, the newly combined organization announced today as they kicked off their annual conference here.
Robinson, who is transgender, brings significant professional and military experience to her new role. She will push OutServe-SLDN forward with their vision to secure equality for LGBT military personnel and enhance the readiness and effectiveness of our nation’s military.
“I grew up in a military family. My dad is a Vietnam veteran, his father was a veteran of WWII, so in many ways, the Army was our family business,“ Robinson told OutServe Magazine. “So, this feels like coming home for me in a lot of ways.”
Hailing from Scranton, Penn., Robinson is a 1994 graduate of the U.S. Military Academy, where she majored in physics. Her professional military accomplishments include interning at the Los Alamos National Laboratory and commanding Patriot missile units in the United States, Germany and Saudi Arabia. She was also a senior trainer and evaluator for NATO and advisor to the armed forces of Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Qatar.
After resigning her commission in 1999 to pursue a calling in the ministry, Robinson worked in the Azores and central Texas, devoting herself to the issue of systemic poverty. Returning to school, she earned her master’s degree from Baylor University with an emphasis on social justice in 2007.
Prior to accepting her new position, Robinson headed the Human Rights Campaign Workplace Project where she helped corporate human resource departments, emphasizing the value of inclusion and empowerment of LGBT professionals in the workforce. Her efforts also promoted awareness of transgender issues, driving corporate responsibility toward inclusion and equality of transgender people.
Robinson is now charged with the mission of ensuring all LGBT service members and their families have the same rights and privileges as their straight counterparts, as well as continuing to urge the military to embrace and promote the value of a diverse workforce.
Recognizing military families are “force multipliers,” Robinson credits her own success to her crew at home. She met her partner, Danyelle, at West Point in 1991, and together, they have four children, Truman, Jubilee, Deacon, and Herald, all born on or around military bases in different parts of Europe. “They are my strongest support, my truest allies and my greatest inspiration.”
Knowing the importance of family within the military drives Robinson’s purpose at OutServe-SLDN. “The tasks that are ahead of us are very, very clear,” said Robinson. “We need to continue to press for equity of benefits for all of our service members,” referring to the current lack of health coverage, base access and family housing, among other inequalities, for families of LGBT service members. “Many of these benefits can be given with the stroke of a pen, right now, by our leaders at the Pentagon. We’ll continue to push to see that happen.”
Robinson is also devoted to highlighting the impact of the ban that prohibits openly transgender people from serving.
Though the discriminatory “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” (DADT) policy was repealed last year, the new legislation does not address the continued discrimination toward transgender military professionals. The ban on transgender service lies within service medical policies versus law set by Congress. This is one area OutServe Magazine has singled out as a pressing issue today, bringing on out trans columnist, Brynn Tannehill, a former Navy Seahawk pilot who has written extensively about issues affecting trans service members. The Magazine also published one of the most comprehensive pieces to-date, featuring first-person interviews with trans personnel serving in combat today, and analyzing the policies that bar the open service of trans military.
Being a transgender woman herself, Robinson is intimately familiar with the struggles of trans service members. “This is a fight that is important to us. And, together, we’re going to win this fight, just like we did ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,’” said Robinson. “It’s going to take different methods, and it’s going to take time, but we are committed to winning. And we’re going to win.”