Storkow, Germany – Lieutenant Colonel Anastasia Biefang, after spending years as a consultant to the Defence Ministry in Berlin, she’s now the new commander of the German Army’s IT battalion 381 in the north-east town of Storkow, where she’ll be in charge of 750 soldiers.
“The nice thing about this job is that I’ll be dealing directly with people again,” she says.
Biefang began her career in the German Army 23 years ago – back when she was the son of a long-serving soldier.
She passed all the usual milestones of a traditional career in the German military – basic military service, officer training, educational theory and training to join the General Staff.
But as she progressed, Biefang says, she felt more like a woman than a man. In her role as a soldier, she had always repressed her femininity, though physically she was feeling worse and worse.
Two years ago, she decided to tell her immediate colleagues, though her friends, fearing for her career, advised her not to.
“I was unhappy and didn’t want to live like that anymore,” says the 43-year-old. “At that point, it was more important to me.”
What gave her courage was that she isn’t the first transgender in the German Army. She didn’t expect that her superiors would immediately accept her as a woman, but to her surprise, they made it easy for her.
“The army didn’t try to hide me and in my new position – of course, that wouldn’t be possible,” the commander says, adding that she doesn’t want her trans status to be constantly in focus. “But if people want to know, I’ll answer any questions,” she continues.
The transition was a tough one, Biefang says, including the hormone therapy, the split from her wife and the painful operations.
“I want to show that when employers and those affected are willing, the process is absolutely manageable,” she says, adding that couldn’t imagine herself in any other profession.
Her openness is welcome in her new workplace. “Only 5 percent of the staff here are women,” says the Storkow battalion’s press officer Fraenzi Pietke. And the female soldiers – who don’t shy away from the demanding physical work they sometimes face – are readily accepted by the men, she adds.
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