Transgender at the C.I.A.

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from The New York Times,

The day she nervously told her boss that they needed to talk in the summer of 2012, the young intelligence analyst was mindful of the ordeal of the transgender woman at the Central Intelligence Agency who came before her. The story had become C.I.A. lore. In the late 1980s, a standout senior analyst who became the butt of jokes when she came out resigned after enduring months of cruel glances and crude remarks.

Jenny, the young officer, who is a Middle East expert, hadn’t heard yet about Diane Schroer, the former Army officer who set an important legal precedent for transgender federal employees by suing the Library of Congress in 2005. She didn’t know what, if any, legal protections and benefits transgender employees at the C.I.A. were entitled to.

All she knew with certainty was that going through life as a man had become unbearable.

“I was terrified,” she said in an interview, which the C.I.A. arranged on condition that she be identified as Jenny, an alias for the undercover officer. “I wasn’t sure if I transitioned, whether I would have a career. Maybe I would be here, but marginalized, and no one would take me seriously again.”

Jenny’s transition began as the federal government was starting to take bold steps to protect and support transgender employees. That remarkable evolution was set in motion by a handful of trailblazers, key among them Ms. Schroer, who stood up to the kind of discrimination that ended careers in the federal work force.

The first openly gay officer at the agency, a computer expert named Tracey Ballard, came out in 1988, when openly gay Americans were barred from holding security clearances. The C.I.A.’s entrenched culture of homophobia didn’t start easing until that rule was repealed in 1995. Ms. Ballard’s admission led to a lengthy investigation and for years made her an outcast.

Today, she leads the agency’s gay, lesbian and transgender group, which is one of the most active employee organizations within the C.I.A. Alongside Ms. Moore, she spent months working out the logistics of Jenny’s transition.

Transitioning in a supportive environment might not have been as likely if Ms. Schroer, a retired Army Special Forces colonel, had not applied for a job as a terrorism analyst at the Library of Congress in 2005. Shortly after accepting the job, she took her prospective supervisor to lunch to explain that she was transgender and intended to start the job as Diane. The manager called the next day to say that, after a sleepless night, she had concluded that Ms. Schroer was not the right candidate for the position after all.

Ms. Schroer’s experience was far from unique.

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