Transgender MEDCOM Soldiers Share What It Means to Live an Authentic Life

By Lt. Col. Joleen Pangelinan, National Defense UniversityJune 24, 2022

Staff Sgt. Alleria Stanley (left) and Sgt. Zaneford Alvarez show their Pride in the Patch.
Staff Sgt. Alleria Stanley (left) and Sgt. Zaneford Alvarez show their Pride in the Patch. (Photo Credit: U.S. Army) VIEW ORIGINAL

In observance of national Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer (LGBTQ+) Pride month, the National Defense University hosted a speaker panel on “Translating Trans: What Leaders Should Know” Jan. 13, 2022.

Four transgender military service members from the U.S. Army, Navy, and Space Force addressed common myths about transgender people, the challenges they have faced, and the rewards of being authentic. The panel also discussed medical issues and military policy as well as shared some of their own “war stories.”

One of the speakers, Staff Sgt. Alleria Stanley, a 68P-Radiology Specialist from General Leonard Wood Army Community Hospital, Fort Leonard Wood, MO shared her unique challenges as a military parent of two transgendered children. Stanley discussed how while “gay, lesbian, and transgender Soldiers can serve openly and military families with transgender, or LGBTQ+, children find support and acceptance, it largely depends on where they are stationed.”

Sgt. Zaneford Alvarez, a 68X-Behavioral Health Specialist from Madigan Army Medical Center, Joint-Base Lewis McChord, WA spoke of his transgender status to educate and inspire other Soldiers to live authentically. Alvarez proudly spoke of his family’s long line of military service and how being transgender does not define who he is as a Soldier.

“We all raised our right hand and said the Oath of Enlistment. We volunteered to fight for our country and to protect the people we love,” Alvarez said.

Despite the successful repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” in 2011, transgendered individuals were still banned from serving in the military. It took another 10 years for policy to change to allow transgender individuals to serve openly as their identified gender. For Stanley, she likened the days of being new to a unit especially as being a new employee at any other job. People are cautious and wary until you have shown that you can handle the work. Her capability or duty position was not in question; however, a culture that she felt would be more tolerant was not entirely welcoming.

Both Stanley and Alvarez have made considerable efforts for the military’s steady march toward inclusion and respect. They proudly displayed their MEDCOM Patch Pride and what it means to be in Army Medicine and Army Strong.