CPO1 Lyne Edmondson finds courage to be her true self
May 31, 2022 - Royal Canadian Navy
Chief Petty Officer 1st Class Lyne Edmondson
Lyne Edmondson is promoted to the rank of chief petty officer 1st class by Commander Chad Naefken (right) on behalf of Rear Admiral Casper Donovan. Lyne’s daughter is on the left.
Chief Petty Officer 1st Class Lyne Edmondson with Alli Jones, an ambassador for Positive Space, at her promotion ceremony.
For Chief Petty Officer 1st (CPO1) Class Lyne Edmondson, the past few years have been a testament to the positive impacts personal understanding and support from peers can have on a person’s life trajectory.
“I was a grumpy old chief,” Lyne admits.
As a transgender woman, before choosing to transition, CPO1 Edmondson wasn’t able to be her true self with the people closest to her.
“And was I doing my job? Absolutely. Talk to any of my bosses. I was always a notable performer,” said Lyne.
But she didn’t realize that the people on her team were afraid to talk to her.
Now the Base Information Services Branch Chief at Canadian Forces Base (CFB) Esquimalt, B.C, Lyne says her path to transition was in many ways possible due to the positive support she received from both her peers and chain of command. However, she says she knows it’s not true that the entire Department of National Defence is a positive space.
“But I know that we're also getting better. We've got some ways to go, but we have also come a long way.”
For Lyne, she had a good childhood, growing up in Tisdale, Sask., a small rural town with a close-knit community about two hours northeast of Saskatoon. She did all the “normal things” she says, even though there were things she didn’t understand about herself at the time.
“I always felt different,” she said of her childhood. “But I never knew what it was, even all throughout my career. I could not define it or explain it.”
A few years ago Lyne’s ex-partner began asking her questions about why she was so unhappy, which lead to her exploring those questions to learn more about herself.
When she looked at her HR profile, it was the wrong photograph, name and gender. “Even the uniform I put on every morning wasn't right.”
“It feels like you're lying to people,” she said. “I was lying to my best friend, I was lying to my commanding officer that I was supposed to be building trust with. I was lying to my supervisor that was taking care of me and giving me opportunities.”
Knowing the way other transgender people had been treated in the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) in the past, she kept putting off coming out as a transgender woman. She was worried it would affect her career and the way her superiors and colleagues would treat her.
But keeping track of all the lies led to mounting anxiety which eventually got so bad she started to break down at work.
“I don't want to feel like this anymore,” she remembers deciding at the time.
So she went to speak with her Commanding Officer and some of the Formation’s senior chief petty officers, specifically CPO1 Ian Kelly.
The meeting with her Commanding Officer and CPO1 Kelly turned out to be very positive. They made her feel safe and recommended she speak with a psychologist at Health Services on the base so she could figure out how she wanted to move forward.
The day she spoke with her psychologist was the best day of her life, she says. After discussing what she was going through, the psychologist asked Lyne what she wanted to do.
“I said I am a transgender woman and I want to transition. I started crying my eyes out. I cried tears of happiness, tears of the removal of exhaustion. It was like the world was sitting on my shoulders and someone took it off.”
CPO1 Kelly also recommended she meet with Alli Jones, an ambassador for Positive Space, a volunteer peer-based support group for lesbian, gay, bi-sexual, transgender, queer and Two Spirit personnel (LGBTQ2+) and allies of these community members.
“When I met Alli Jones and the Positive Space people, I found out that my anxiety could be worked on. I didn't feel like burying myself somewhere and not being part of society anymore. It drew me back into being in relationships,” said Lyne.
Positive Space was a place for Lyne to tell her story in front of others as her true self and to learn more about herself. The experience was so significant she agreed to become an ambassador and facilitator.
And now that she has come out as a transgender woman, and the anxiety of leading that double life is gone, she has been able to focus on the relationships around her.
“My relationship with my daughters is even more amazing than it used to be,” she said. “I just get to know my partner and my friends better, because I want to. Because I feel happy to love someone instead of just sitting on the couch and watching TV.”
It makes her feel good that people come talk to her now. “I know that people aren't scared of talking to me anymore,” she said.
When it comes to her military career, Lyne doesn’t think she would have been a good enough leader to be promoted to CPO1 without transitioning and working on herself at Positive Space and with her psychologist.
“A good leader talks to people and finds out their diversity, finds out their colours and creates a situation of inclusivity,” she says. “As you include people and make them feel good coming to work, that's what allows them to flourish.”
“My promotion ceremony to CPO1 was the second best day of my life,” she said.
Lyne’s daughter, Alli Jones, the Base Chief, the Formation Chief, other senior chiefs, her Commanding Officer and all of her colleagues were there.
After they promoted her they asked her to speak. She hadn’t prepared anything, so she decided to tell her story in front of everyone, like she had done at Positive Space many times before.
As she was telling her story she broke down in tears a few times. “But I gathered myself up. The Chief inside me said ‘It's alright, keep going.’”
After the ceremony CPO1 Ian Kelly thanked Lyne, saying, “I knew you could be this person.”
For Lyne, CFB Esquimalt is a positive space. “It's an example to the Admiral and to the Base Commander that their people are doing it right. There are successes in all of the darkness we see.”
She wants people to know that people like her can succeed. That the Navy, the CAF and Canadian society are ready for people like her to succeed.
“If nothing else changes, the way we treat each other, if that can improve, I think we’ve already succeeded.”
Report a problem or mistake on this page
- Date modified: