Biden nomination would be Pentagon’s most senior openly transgender official
President Biden will nominate a transgender retired Navy commander to oversee readiness at the Pentagon, the White House said Friday.
If confirmed as assistant secretary of Defense for readiness, Shawn Skelly would be the highest ever ranking openly transgender defense official.
Skelly, a former Navy aviator, most recently served on Biden’s Pentagon transition team.
She is also the co-founder and vice president of Out in National Security, which advocates for increased representation of LGBT people in the national security workforce.
Her nomination comes after Biden reversed the Trump administration’s ban on most transgender service members. Late last month, the Pentagon released its new rules allowing open service by transgender troops, essentially reverting to the Obama administration’s open service policy.
The White House also announced Friday that Biden would nominate another leading advocate for LGBT rights in the military, Brenda “Sue” Fulton, to be the assistant secretary of Defense for manpower and reserve affairs.
Fulton is a former Army officer who was in the first U.S. Military Academy at West Point class to admit women. She was the first openly gay member of the academy’s Board of Visitors when then-President Obama appointed her in 2011.
Fulton helped found several organizations advocating for LGBT service members, including Knights Out, OutServe and SPARTA.
In addition to Skelly and Fulton, the White House announced two other Pentagon nominations Friday: Deborah Rosenblum to be assistant secretary for nuclear, chemical and biological defense and Christopher Maier to be assistant secretary for special operations and low intensity conflict.
Maier currently serves in that role in an acting capacity. Rosenblum is currently the executive vice president of the Nuclear Threat Initiative, which advocates for reducing the risks posed by nuclear, chemical and biological weapons.