U.S. Admiral Michael Gilday defends non-binary sailors amid criticism from some Republicans


On Tuesday, the U.S. Navy’s top admiral enthusiastically defended a non-binary sailor amid some criticism from Republican lawmakers, saying he was “particularly proud of this sailor.”

Sailor LTJG Audrey Knutson shared their story on the Navy’s Instagram page last week. In a short video, Knudsen says they are proud to serve non-binary, especially since their grandfather served in the Navy as gay in World War II. During their deployment aboard the USS Gerald R. Ford last fall, Knudsen said their highlight was reading a poem to the entire ship during LGBTQ speaking night. The Instagram video garnered nearly 17,000 likes.

Then, Sen. Marco Rubio, Republican from Florida, tweets Part of the clip was captioned, “As China prepares for war, here’s what they’re keeping our US Navy focused on.” The senators on Tuesday. Republican Tommy Tuberville of Alabama went on to attack the video, telling the Senate Armed Services Committee that he “has a lot of questions about it.”

But Chief of Naval Operations Admiral. Michael Gilday defended the sailor, stressing that it was the commander’s job to assemble a fighting force.

“I’ll tell you why I’m especially proud of this sailor,” Gilday said at the hearing. “So, her grandfather served in World War II, he was gay, and he was ostracized in an institution that she not only joined and was proud to be a part of, but she volunteered to deploy at Ford, and she might deploy next Moon Ford will go to sea again.”

Gilday used feminine pronouns to refer to Knudsen, but Navy told CNN that Knudsen’s choice of pronouns was non-binary.

“We invite people from all over the country, from all walks of life, from all backgrounds to join us,” Gilday said, “and then it’s the commander’s job to build a cohesive combat team that abides by the laws that require us to be able to conduct rapid operations at sea. , sustained action. The kind of trust a commander builds throughout the force must be able to be built with dignity and respect, so… if the officer can legally enlist in the US Navy, is willing to serve and is willing to be treated the same as you and I risked my life to swear, then I am proud to serve by their side.”

Some Republican lawmakers on Capitol Hill have attacked the military for being too “sober,” claiming it is one of the reasons for the army’s poor recruiting numbers, even though a recent Army survey showed that only 5 percent of potential recruits worry about being “sober.” ”

Last month, Republican Rep. Cory Mills and several others questioned the Department of Defense’s diversity, equity and inclusion training at a House Armed Services subcommittee hearing on military personnel. “We’re absolutely 150 percent capable of outperforming every single one of our opponents, and I’m sure China and Russia are astounded by that,” Mills said.

In response, Undersecretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness Gil Cisneros said diversity and equal opportunity training has been part of the military for decades.

At another hearing in early March, the military’s top enlisted leader, Sgt. Army Maj. Michael Greenston emphasized that the military’s focus remains on combat lethality, even with additional training on diversity and inclusion.

“Basic training includes an hour of equal opportunity training and 92 hours of rifle marksmanship,” Greenston said at the time. “If you go [One Station Unit Training], 165 hours of rifle marksmanship training, and 1 hour of equal opportunity training. ”

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