International Transgender Day of Visibility: An opportunity to honour our transgender community

March 28, 2024 - Defence Stories

International Transgender Day of Visibility (March 31) is dedicated to honouring transgender people and raising awareness of the discrimination faced by that community worldwide while celebrating their contributions to society.


Chaplain (Captain) Beatrice Gale

Contributions like those of Chaplain (Captain) Gale, the Canadian Armed Forces’ (CAF) first openly transgender chaplain, who has been generous and candid about her coming out journey, are important.

“It makes us stronger when we share our challenges, and I hope that being a transgender chaplain sends a message to the 2SLGBTQI+ community that the Royal Canadian Chaplain Service cares. That it cares for that community.”

She has not always been so open and positive about her gender identity and took until the age of 43 to publicly come out. There was a time in Canada’s not so distant past when she would have faced significant discrimination. The Government of Canada acknowledges there was a period during which the federal government’s policies and practices, today referred to as the “LGBT Purge,” led to the discrimination of LGBT employees within the Federal Public Service, the CAF, and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.

“I hid this core part of who I am and rejected myself for so long,” says Gale. “The emotional energy I spent dealing with my shame hurt not only me, but the people who cared about me. I felt trapped. I knew that if I continued to try to live as cisgender, I was probably going to die – but I also felt that by coming out, I would lose everything. I was completely convinced that the whole world would hate me if I they knew that I am transgender, that I would have no support, that I would lose my family, friends, and job. It turned out that the most damaging lie was not the one that I told the world by hiding myself, it was the lie I told myself to keep myself from accepting who I am.”

Chaplain Gale has been a vocal advocate for the rights of transgender members in uniform. Her efforts resulted in policy changes that contributed to more inclusive gender-affirming medical care for CAF members.

“I feel like we're on the right track, but I feel like that progress is fragile and I feel like there's a lot of hurt. I hope that we can honour that hurt, and that we can seek to not do it again,” says Gale.

Diversity and inclusion are vital to creating an organization which meets the needs of all Canadians and those who rely on its services. Greater diversity and inclusivity enrich the workplace and enable us to leverage the range of perspectives and expertise needed to address today’s complex challenges.

"The International Transgender Day of Visibility is important to me personally because visibility and education are key to social acceptance,” says Gale. “There are a lot of damaging myths about gender diversity. All the transgender people I know simply want a world where we can be who we are without fear of discrimination or harassment based on our gender identity and expression."

To hear more from Chaplain Gale, please watch her CAF Story, I am a woman.

The Defence Team is committed to fostering a safe and inclusive work environment for everyone, including members of the two-spirit, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and intersex+ communities. If you are a Defence Team member dealing with 2SLGBTQI+ related issues, are looking for social support, or if you want to help make the Defence Team a more inclusive workplace for these communities, contact the Defence Team Positive Space Program at

If needed, further support is available at the link below or through community-based organizations across Canada:

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