WASHINGTON -- Allyson Robinson, a transgender veteran, has been named executive director of OutServe-SLDN, a gay-rights group supporting LGBT troops.
Robinson is a 1994 graduate of West Point and commanded Patriot missile units in Germany and Saudi Arabia during five years of military service the 1990s.
OutServe-SLDN has been in a state of transition since the repeal of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" (DADT) more than a year ago, and has been reshifting its focus on other issues impacting LGBT troops. Robinson's appointment signals that the organization will place an emphasis on transgender issues, since the revised military policy still bans transgender service.
“There is a tremendous amount of inequality still,” Robinson told Stars and Stripes. “We have [the Defense of Marriage Act, or DOMA]. We have families of military gays and lesbians not able to access basic support and benefits. The reason we’re still fighting on these issues, even after repeal, is because we have not yet achieved our mission.”
Robinson said DOMA still applies to Americans, including the troops, and the organization will be working to overturn the law.
“DOMA’s days are clearly numbered,” Robinson said. “But before then, there are benefits that could be granted to the families of gays and lesbians, because they’re sacrifices are no less than any others.”
A longtime LGBT advocate, Robinson has held several key positions at the Human Rights Campaign. She has worked to build transgender cultural competence and helped lead and manage HRC’s broad diversity and inclusion portfolio. She assisted in the development of state and local nondiscrimination legislative strategy, and has lobbied state legislatures in New Hampshire, Connecticut, Maryland and Nevada for inclusive employment nondiscrimination protections.
Most recently, Robinson launched HRC’s LGBT cultural competency organizational learning program, providing training in LGBT inclusion to organizations ranging from Fortune 500 companies to federal agencies to colleges and universities to NGO’s and faith organizations. She remains one of HRC’s most requested speakers.
HRC's president, Chad Griffin, praised the appointment.
“The LGBT rights movement is made stronger by the inspired appointment of Allyson Robinson as head of a critically important organization,” Griffin said. “As a West Point graduate, experienced officer and movement leader, she brings her extensive knowledge of the issues to this new assignment. What I admire most about Allyson is that she leads with her heart and that quality will serve our troops and veterans extraordinarily well as we continue the fight for full equality.”
Anu Bhagwati, executive director of Service Women’s Action Network and former Marine Corps captain, also hailed the appointment.
“As longtime allies of OutServe and SLDN, we are thrilled to learn of Allyson’s appointment,” Bhagwati said. “As we continue to struggle for equality for LGBT service members and veterans, we need brave, dynamic leaders committed to fighting for the right to serve in uniform, free from harassment and discrimination. Allyson’s combination of exemplary military experience and effective LGBT organizing make her the perfect choice.”
“'Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell' may have happened a year ago, but we still have a military that treats LGB service members and their families like second-class citizens, and bars transgender people from serving at all,” Bhagwati said. “Ms. Robinson’s leadership, experience and skill come to this movement at very critical time. She has SWAN’s complete support, and we can’t wait to begin working with her.”