Four DEFGLIS members on supporting LGBTIQA+ veterans
Image: LSIS Susan Mossop, Defence Media
Four DEFGLIS members share the value of support structures that champion diversity and inclusion among veterans, Defence personnel and family members.
At a glance:
- The Defence LGBTI Information Service (DEFGLIS) informs and advocates for members of the LGBTIQA+ community in the ADF.
- Information and support are also available to veterans, including those whose family members are part of the LGBTIQA+ community.
- RSL NSW supports DEFGLIS in its mission and welcomes its members to access support and services offered by RSL NSW and RSL LifeCare Veteran Services.
- For members, marching in the Mardi Gras parade is a chance to reconnect with their community.
DEFGLIS was founded in 2002 as the Defence Gay and Lesbian Information Service to provide policy and community information to gay, lesbian and bisexual members of Defence. The association extended its support to transgender and intersex personnel in 2011 and became known as the Defence LGBTI Information Service.
As an information service, the organisation delivers news to and organises activities for its members and the broader Defence and LGBTIQA+ communities. A DEFGLIS contingent marches each year in the Mardi Gras Parade, and monthly meetings regularly bring members of the DEFGLIS community together.
RSL NSW supports DEFGLIS in its mission, and welcomes all members of the DEFGLIS community to access support, services and community offered by RSL NSW and RSL LifeCare Veteran Services.
Ahead of Mardi Gras weekend, four DEFGLIS members shared their experiences being a part of DEFGLIS, and the value of finding a mutually supportive, like-minded community in and out of Defence, both for themselves and the people they know.
Image: LSIS Susan Mossop, Defence Media
Riley Bradford is a DEFGLIS board director and its Transgender & Gender Diverse Representative. Riley is a lieutenant in the Army and uses they/them pronouns.
“I’m currently enrolled in the Regimental Officers Basic Course. I only got my wings at the end of last year, so there’s still a couple of months to go before I’m fully qualified.
“I joined DEFGLIS in 2016. I was the first non-binary person to come out in the ADF, so I didn’t have much to go off. I became involved in DEFGLIS to find other transgender people who had transitioned while in service, and to find a blueprint for what might happen. It’s made a huge difference to find members of a community who also sit at the intersection between being transgender and serving in the ADF.
“First and foremost, DEFGLIS is an information service: we exist to provide information to the people who need it. But we’ve grown into being a peer support and advocacy service for our members.
“Events like Mardi Gras are great for getting everyone together. The event itself is spectacular, and the atmosphere along Oxford Street is amazing. It’s really exciting to be back there this year.”
Victor Guevara works as a chartered accountant while serving in Reserve. He is a member of Redfern RSL sub-Branch, and uses he/him pronouns.
“I’ve been a career Reservist since 2007. Outside of Defence, I’m the CFO of the local subsidiary of a US-based animal health company.
“A lot of people in Defence live on outlying bases around the country. And in remote areas, it’s difficult for them to find people like themselves. So it’s good for them to come together from time to time and reconnect with their community at DEFGLIS events.
“It’s important for employers to ensure that there is recognition and respect for diversity, and that they make everyone feel welcome – otherwise they will miss out on talent. It’s not really a point of differentiation anymore. It’s more of a point of parity.”
Lydia works as a public servant in Defence, and uses she/her pronouns.
“For me, DEFGLIS is about advocacy in the Defence space. I work heavily with the ADF and DEFGLIS to make changes to how we do things in Defence, and to get more people into the organisation – which isn’t as simple as you might think, unfortunately.
“I’m transgender, and I work to support transgender members who are coming out with gender affirmation in the workplace, which has been really exciting and rewarding. It involves everything from liaising with their commanders to training their colleagues about what they need to know and how to support them.”
At Lydia’s request, we haven’t published her last name.
David Joyce is a lieutenant in the Navy and a member of Forestville RSL sub-Branch. He uses he/him pronouns.
“I was born and bred in New Zealand, and joined the Navy when I moved to Australia in 1996. Two years ago I was commissioned as a lieutenant, and currently work at HMAS Watson as the Off-Course Support Manager.
“My eldest child Kayden is gender diverse. As a father, I want to provide the best resources and support that I can, so I reached out to DEFGLIS President Rachael Cosgrove, who I’ve known for about 20 years, to find out how I could best support them. Kayden has now engaged DEFGLIS to support diversity initiatives happening at school.
“DEFGLIS is a great resource that’s helped me learn how to support my family. More people should know about what the service does and what it can provide members.”
RSL NSW welcomes veterans and serving ADF personnel to join the organisation. Access support services and become part of a like-minded community of peers – become a member of RSL NSW.