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Royal Navy champions the rights of transgender sailors on International Transgender Day of Visibility

Royal Navy champions the rights of transgender sailors on International Transgender Day of Visibility
31 March 2018
Meet Chief Petty Officer Hannah Louise Peace. Senior rating. More than two decades in the RN. Responsible for IT kit for military medics. Enjoys her career. Embraces life.

Royal Navy champions the rights of transgender sailors on International Transgender Day of VisibilityShe’s also one of around half a dozen personnel in the Naval Service who is openly transgender. On the International Transgender Day of Visibility she and the nation’s second most senior admiral championed the rights of transgender personnel – and stressed the inclusive nature of the RN of 2018.

The day of visibility has been running for the past decade with the aim of confronting transphobia and cissexism (prejudice against transgender people), raising awareness of transgender personnel in all sections of society and celebrating their deeds.

Fleet Commander Vice Admiral Ben Key is keen to underline that today’s RN both supports and recognises its transgender personnel. 

“I am proud that the Naval Service promotes a diverse and inclusive environment where our transgender Service people are valued and respected,” he said.

For Hannah, the Senior Service has played a fundamental role not just in her career but also in her transition.

Today she works for the Defence Medical Information Capability Program (Deployed) at DMS Whittington, near Tamworth, where she’s responsible for a small team who manage and support all the medical IT systems within the MOD which are currently deployed. This is her story:

I am proud that the Naval Service promotes a diverse and inclusive environment where our transgender Service people are valued and respected

Fleet Commander Vice Admiral Ben Key

“I knew from a very early age that I was different but, coming from a small mining village it was difficult for me to actually be me.  I had a happy childhood even though my feelings where somewhat skewed as I didn’t look how I felt. My saving grace was having a younger sister which allowed me the freedom to play with dolls and girls games without being judged.

I joined the RN in the early 90s and decided a spell in the military could change me and make me the man I wasn’t. As time rolled on I became increasingly unhappy until, one morning, I woke and decided enough was enough: I needed to do something about it and made an appointment to see the doctor. The doctor understood what I was saying and set the wheels in motion to enable me to be me. I haven’t looked back or been unhappy again – I embrace life and the challenges it brings and have never been as happy.

I was told about the Royal Navy’s LGBT Forum (now called the Compass Network) not long after ‘coming out’ as trans and asked if I would be interested in attending a meeting.

I thought: “why not, let’s see what it’s all about” and to my surprise it was fantastic. The network was so welcoming and so forward thinking – a force for good, I thought. I decided to become part of it. I wanted to try and give something back as I had received so much care and understanding.

I have attended lots of events around the country representing Compass Network and the RN in general, such as the Stonewall role models’ programme. A highlight has been marching in uniform at London Pride, which I found exhilarating and felt a massive sense of pride in myself and my Service.

I feel I owe so much to the RN as they enabled me to be me and that’s something money cannot buy. I also think it’s very important that people see that the RN does include trans people and that they are valued and needed.

I know that if someone has a sense of belonging they will be a much happier individual and their work will improve. Nobody should be afraid to be themselves and if me being out and public about who I am encourages and gives someone the strength to be themself then I feel that it cannot be a bad thing.

I owe my gratitude to my family and the RN because without their support and understanding I may well not be the person I am today.“

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