You do not need to struggle with your gender identity to experience difficulties in answering YES to that question. Being ourselves first and foremost – and not what we think is expected of us in our many social roles – can be a courageous act.
For Anastasia Biefang, the first transgender commander of the German Armed Forces, it took decades to stop pushing her inner truth back down. After many years of service, she took over her battalion in 2017 as a woman and with a film crew on her side. She shook and changed her fellow soldier’s attitude towards gender diversity, brought to fall one or two prejudices and helped build thus far lacking policies for those who come after her. She shows how excelling at a respectable, traditional leadership role and being colourful without holding back is no contradiction.
Apart from her professional role in the military, she is passionate about changing Germany’s “Transexuals Act”, a law regulating the transition process of transgender people which is deemed to violate human rights and the German constitution.
In this intimate, fun conversation we talk about the queer community in Berlin, dreams for a diverse society, how great leadership is based on authenticity, and what Ana likes on her pizza.
Ana had waited to come out publicly up until a point where the damage of continuing to hide was bigger than the fear of what could be lost. Her message to you? Be your true self or you won’t know what vast possibilities lie ahead when you do.
Resources – legal situation for trans* people:
The documentary on Ana:
“Ich bin Anastasia” (“I am Anastasia“), 2019, documentary film by Thomas Ladenburger
Lieutenant Colonel & Transgender Activist