The Courier

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It has been a long difficult journey for the 2SLGBTQI+ community within the world, Canada and the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) in being accepted and their fight against homophobia, transphobia and biphobia. The American Psychiatric Association removed Homosexuality from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders in 1974 and replaced it with ego-dystonic sexual orientation (a condition where a person is distressed by their homosexuality) this terminology remained in the DSMs until 2013 when finally, there was no diagnostic category that could be applied to people based on their sexual orientation. For those who want to envision what this means; imagine being stigmatized and judged, excluded, maybe beaten, maybe sent to an asylum or even killed for your eye colour.

It was only a short time ago that the World Health Organization declassified homosexuality as a mental disorder, on 17 May 1990. The International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia was created officially in 2004 to call the world’s attention to the discrimination, violence and stigma that 2SLGBTQI+ people face. 

The CAF has made many positive strides from the 1940s when 2SLGBTQI+ people were not allowed to serve in the CAF to 1967 when the implementation of Canadian Forces Administrative Order (CFAO) 19-20 “Homosexuality – Sexual Abnormality Investigation, Medical Examination and Disposal” was implemented up until 1992 where this CFAO was repealed following a successful court challenge by previous CAF member Michelle Douglas. 

From this point onwards things continued to progress positively for the 2SLGBTQI+ community within the CAF and Canada when in 1995 the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms extended equality rights to sexual orientation which was updated in 2017 by Bill C-16 which made discrimination based on gender identity and gender expression illegal. It was not until 2004 that the first CAF member married their same-sex partner and in 2011 the CAF introduced a policy that allowed name and uniform changes without scrutiny for “transexual members.” This policy was modified in 2019 in a DAOD which focused on the inclusion of gender diversity which outlined uniform, naming protocols, medical and surgical supports, accommodations to privacy and language usage was updated to ‘transgender’. Concurrently, in 2017 the CAF Positive Space program was launched nationally and in 2020 the Defence Team Pride Network became recognized officially as a Defence Advisory Group (DAG) becoming the newest and fifth DAG group, now known as the Defence Team Pride Advisory Organization (DTPAO). 

The 4 Wing DTPAO is alive, active and involved in initiatives, policy reviews and working hard to identify reduce and report systemic barriers. They are also involved in reducing the isolation and loneliness some members of the 2SLGBTQI community of 4 Wing Cold Lake experience. The 4 Wing DTPAO was assigned on 17 May yearly to work with an assigned unit in an advisory role to create an awareness event. After listening to feedback from 2SLGBTQI+ membership as to community members being confused as to why the base raised their flag in May when other communities globally raise their flags in June, the 4 Wing DTPAO was granted permission to change the awareness event dates to coordinate with the global Pride month of June. Pride week on 4 Wing Cold Lake will occur from 13 Jun 24 to 19 Jun 24 this year, so watch for and come participate as an ally, or friend or join the DTPAO as well by emailing or attend a general meeting which occurs every Tuesday of the second week of the month at club 41.


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