VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. – On June 8, 2022, a cohort of 23 service members from both active duty and reserve components, of enlisted personnel and officers, spoke with elected officials in Washington D.C. about the National Defense Authorization Act and advocacy efforts in support of the Truman Amendment.
“Harry Truman Amendment,” if approved, would protect all service member by making the Department of Defense’s non-discrimination policy into law. This potential amendment would ensure legal protections for service members regardless of race, religion, sex (including pregnancy), sexual orientation, and gender identity.
Electronics Technician 3rd Class Zoe Rose, currently serving as a staff member at Information Warfare Training Command (IWTC) Virginia Beach, was one of the 23 service members in attendance.
All 23 were members of SPARTA, a group of transgender, non-binary and gender-nonconforming people, currently serving, or who have served in the United States armed forces. The mission of SPARTA is to advocate for inclusive military policy, provide peer support, and develop transgender military service educational resources on behalf of currently serving transgender military members.
While in D.C., Rose had the opportunity to speak with four senators as part of a small group discussion during which they shared personal stories and discussed various barriers to access to care. The senators that she met with were Michigan Senator Gary Peters, North Carolina Senator Thom Tillis, Maine Senator Angus King, and Nevada Senator Jacky Rosen.
During the meeting, Rose shared her personal story. Rose joined the Navy in December 2019, when she was 20 years old. In May 2020, she decided to begin her transition. In order to make this happen there were many separate steps that she had to accomplish, including receiving a gender dysphoria diagnosis, requesting permission from her commanding officer to start hormone replacement therapy, and receiving an exception to policy.
Throughout her time stationed at IWTC Virginia Beach, Rose said that Cmdr. James Brennan, former commanding officer of IWTC Virginia Beach, and now the current commanding officer, Cmdr. John Copeland, have been very supportive, and were always quick to provide appropriate accommodating action on her behalf.
In September, Rose received a personal letter signed from President Joe Biden, thanking her, and expressing support and encouragement. In the letter President Biden wrote, “If we look ahead in our uniquely American way – restless, bold, and optimistic – and set our sights on the Nation we know we can be, we will meet this moment. I look forward to writing the next great chapter of the American story with you.”
Rose continues her advocacy, outreach, and educational efforts. Most recently, she participated in a military keynote panel, hosted by U.S. Coast Guard’s Sector Virginia Leadership Diversity Advisory Council in Portsmouth, Va., to represent transgender service members.
“ET3 Rose is a great Sailor and a talented electronics technician. She mentored me on the sometimes complicated and confusing guidance associated with her accomplishing her goals and completing her journey,” said Copeland. “I am fully supportive of her efforts. She is a fantastic Sailor that we need to get back out to sea.”