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Freedom Network

  • Sqn Ldr Catherine Lawson
  • Interview by: Jess Boydon


I'm a member of the RAF LGBT+ Freedom Network,

which is a peer support network.

So, i.e., it's LGBT people who come together

to support other LGBT+ people.

And it was set up a number of years ago

after the rules were changed in the military

to allow LGBT+ people to continue to serve.

And once the first people started

to then become visible it became obvious

that there were a number of regulations

that still needed to be changed.

The support in the military wasn't quite there,

despite the fact the rules had changed.

So this organization was set up,

and it was a way of really bringing people together

so that they could discuss some of the unique challenges

that they'd faced.

And so all of that could be changed or people could advocate

for those to be changed for the future,

so that in the future people

wouldn't experience the same issues.

And that organization's really gone

from strength to strength.

You know, there's over 50 people

involved in that organization now.

We have unit representatives on virtually every unit

around the RAF.

For my part I'm one of what's called the pillar leads,

so I'm the transgender pillar lead.

So I'm effectively the focal point

for all transgender issues in the Royal Air Force.

Which means that when somebody gets to the point

of needing to transition,

needing to become their visible selves within the RAF,

I put myself forward to try and help in any way,

in any way, shape, or form.

Whatever help they need, whatever support they need.

But I also try to interpret the lived experience

for the RAF Policy Desk as well.

So that we can really influence the future

of the policies, sort of whatever policy's up for review

or whether, if a new policy's coming into place,

I tend to get involved at that stage as well

to try and make sure that it doesn't impact

any of the LGBT+ community or

where it's got an obvious overlap,

where we've considered any impacts

and try to mitigate wherever possible.

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