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www.defence.gov.au/news/NAVYNEWS November 21, 2013
ABCTL Ruth Scouller might be about
to leave the Navy, but she has a mes-
sage for all ADF personnel struggling
with gender issues.
You are not alone.
AB Scouller said the introduc-
tion of an anonymous online support
network for transgender, intersex and
gender-questioning members was a
huge step towards ensuring people
knew there was support available.
"Being aware of others in the same
situation, and connected to those peo-
ple, helps the transgender community
in Defence immeasurably," she said.
"It's always important to reiter-
ate that transgender members are not
alone, that there are others, and that
currently we have a growing and very
compassionate support network across
all ranks, ages and services."
AB Scouller joined the Navy in
2007 and is a cryptologic linguist
based in Canberra. She started to tran-
sition outside of work in mid-2010 and
started hormone replacement therapy
three years ago.
"I have completed my transition,
had my surgery and am moving on
with the rest of my life," she said.
"Being transgender is more a part
of my history now than anything else.
"I kind of find the topic a bit boring
now, but I still contribute to the sup-
port network as I think it is important
and plan to continue with this post-
She said her experience was positive.
"I went full-time in mid-2012
Network to help ease pain
including name change and presenting
at work as female," she said.
"I was in control of my transition
the entire way through, there were no
leaks about my situation and I could
trust the people who knew.
"The last couple of years of my life
have by far been the happiest.
"My entire world has opened up.
I know I made the right choice, I no
longer have to wear a mask and I am
comfortable in my own skin."
She did not experience any dis-
crimination or hear any derogatory
remarks from her colleagues who she
said she had always been open with.
"In the entire time I have been pre-
senting as female in Defence, I have
not once experienced any rudeness to
my face, which I think is quite com-
mendable," she said.
Having support from family and
friends also helped AB Scouller deal
with her transition. She said coming
out as transgender was the hardest part
of the process.
"The first 'coming out' conversa-
tion is always the hardest and that
was with my mum," she said. "I ran
my first marathon a fortnight before
coming out to her. The marathon was
very difficult, but it was nothing in
comparison to the angst of revealing
myself for the first time to a family
"She has been my greatest support-
er and an angel in my life since the
day I told her."
She said being in the right place at
the right time also helped.
"Old policies on transgender per-
sonnel in Defence were being removed
at the time of my transition so I feel
incredibly lucky," she said.
"If I started transitioning a year or
two earlier, it would have been a dif-
She said growing up as a young
boy was difficult because she real-
ised something was not quite right but
puberty was the most traumatic time.
"By the time I entered my teens
the burden of keeping such a massive
part of my identity in the closet was
"My self-esteem was crushed by
the time I was 17. It is a terrible secret
to have to carry around.
"It slowly eats away at any pride or
respect you have for yourself."
While she said it was an internal
battle through her teens in learning to
accept her gender identity, she had no
qualms in regards to her sexuality.
"Sexuality is about choosing who
you want to go to bed with, gender
identity is more about choosing who
you want to go to bed as."
Her parting message to people hav-
ing gender identity issues is to talk to
someone who understands.
"Transitioning in Defence has
worked, so don't keep it in the clos-
et and bring more harm to yourself.
Defence is ready to accept you.
"I will continue my involvement with
the transgender group, and am happy to
help where I can even after my service."
For more details on the network contact
the moderator, Catherine Humphries, at
firstname.lastname@example.org or at
-- ABCTL Ruth Scouller
I know I made the
right choice, I no
longer have to wear
comfortable in my
Photo: LSIS Helen Frank
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