Army takes transition in stride
A senior political strategist within the Australian Defence Force (ADF) has publicly revealed her gender transition with the Army confirming Lieutenant Colonel Cate McGregor will continue on in her position as speechwriter to Army chief, Lieutenant General David Morrison.
Born as Malcolm McGregor, the former journalist and political staffer to John Hewson and Bob Carr took time off this year to write a memoir, An Indian Summer Of Cricket, and also undergo hormone therapy.
“When I came out to the army, I said I would not be commenting on my transsexuality,” McGregor told The Sunday Telegraph last week.
“But I’ve been treated with enormous decency. I’ve been humbled by my colleagues.”
In a chapter of her book to be released on November 24, McGregor recounts her struggle with her identity while working on the cricketing memoir.
“Over the course of this summer some deep and troubling psychiatric issues returned with an alarming intensity. I had actually been diagnosed as transgendered in 1985, but resolved to repress it and man up,” she writes.
“In the light of its recurrence I frankly do not know how I completed this manuscript. The summer sped past me in a disorientating blur of panic attacks and lack of sleep that fuelled thoughts of suicide. Eventually I decided to end the agony the only way that seemed to offer peace and fulfilment in my remaining years.”
Having been announced this week as the Australian Financial Review’s new cricket writer, it has also been confirmed McGregor will also carry on with her Army duties for Morrison.
“And he insisted that I continue in that role, as speechwriter,” she said.
It is believed McGregor is one of six ADF members who remain in service after gender affirmation surgery.
Vince Chong, chair of DEFGLIS, the ADF’s internal support and information service for LGBTI personnel, told SX that McGregor’s decision to talk publicly about her gender identity boded well for the future.
“It’s great to see Lieutenant Colonel McGregor has been embraced and supported for her capability and skill, rather than rejected for being different. It’s great to see an example of Army and Defence forging ahead to break new ground in acceptance and inclusion of transgender people,” he said.
“We praise Lieutenant Colonel McGregor for showing the world that gender dysphoria is perfectly natural and it’s pleasing to hear how much support she received from colleagues. We hope that she will help us to increase support that we provide to transgender and gender questioning people in Defence.”
Last month, DEFGLIS co-hosted the Diversity Strengthens Breakfast which saw the vice chief of Defence Forces, Air Marshal Mark Binskin, and Air Force chief, Air Marshal Geoff Brown, join ADFA cadets and LGBTI personnel to discuss ways to better support LGBTI cadets in the wake of calls for better anti-homophobia programs following a scandal over a gay-hate Facebook page set up by former and serving Defence Force members in 2010.