Sailor endeavours to create a positive workplace

Sailor endeavours to create a positive workplace

SLt M.X. Déry, MARPAC PA Office ~

LS Danielle Dewitt has joined a troop of volunteers across the country dedicated to creating a welcoming and inclusive workplace for everyone, including members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, two–spirit, intersex, and questioning (LGBTQ2) community.

She recently completed Positive Space training at the base to become an ambassador at her unit – Patrol Craft Training (PCT).

It’s not a new role. She completed a similar course at CFB Halifax following her transition from male to female.

After coming out as transgender to her chain of command, LS Dewitt spent years navigating the complex and uncharted waters of the military medical system that did not have a process in place to assist a transitioning military member.

While she was shore-posted she helped create Positive Space training and aided other military members in the same boat navigate the medical system.

Her new posting as senior boatswain at PCT has her back to sea almost every week in one of the eight Orcas training junior officers.      

“I’ve found a new family at this unit, so I love it here,” she said. “It is a good way to get my feet wet since it has been a couple of years since I’ve sailed.”

Regular interactions with junior officers have the added benefit of introducing future naval leaders to LGBTQ2 issues.

“Since being here I have had a lot of questions from junior officers about what is to be trans. I find that helpful; showing them that LGBTQ2 members are sailors first. I’ve had NWO IV (Naval Warfare Officer) graduates contact me about trans issues. Because of the networking I’ve done here, I’ve been able to point them in the right direction.”

It hasn’t all been positive; not everyone appropriately handles the shift from the male to female pronoun. For those who outright disagree with identifying her as a woman, LS Dewitt has a stock answer.

“My rank has no gender. Just call me leading seaman, and on this ship call me buffer.”

She is looking forward to the day when she can sail in a larger class of ship.

“Eventually I want to be a buffer on an MCDV, and ultimately a frigate,” she says.

No matter where her future takes her, she will endeavour to create a positive work environment with her shipmates.

The Positive Space initiative supports the CAF’s commitment to promoting diversity, inclusion and a respectful environment, as outlined in Canada’s Defence Policy Strong, Secure, Engaged.

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  1. Danielle Dewitt says:

    Thank you for this lovely article

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