Double Standards in Defence


pic: Facebook

pic: Facebook

While we are busily observing the double standard and male privilege in operation in Parliament, with regard to women staffers and journalists, it’s instructive to take a look at what’s happening to Group Captain Cate McGregor.

Group Captain McGregor is probably the most high profile transgender person in the country, a contender for the title of Australian of the Year. When she initially announced her transition, she seemed to have the support of the Department of Defence, as well as the then Prime Minister, Tony Abbott.

But things seem to have have changed. Toby Abbott is no longer Prime Minister, and this change may have emboldened elements within Defence who are not so supportive of transgendered personnel. McGregor may have exhausted the patience of the Defence Dept., as her principal opponents and tormentors are now being appeased.

The Bernards Gaynor, junior and senior, have been involved in a long-running battle with McGregor (and indeed the entire LGBTI community) on social media.Gaynor Junior is McGregor’s principal antagonist, with a fine talent for homophobic and transphobic invective online. Gaynor Senior has been active more privately, in correspondence and personal contact with Defence personnel.

Gaynor Junior’s behaviour led to his sacking by Defence in late 2013. They described his anti-gay and anti-trans social media commentaries as homophobic, ­offensive to transgender people, and unacceptable (a judge has since ordered his reinstatement: Defence is appealing the ruling).

Nonetheless Junior says he will leave the army anyway because, among other things, continued membership is incompatible with his “morals”.

I apologise is advance for reproducing what follows. Consider this a trigger warning: virulent transphobia. Some people, including Cate, will doubtless be very upset by it. Others, like myself, will also be considerably angered. But it’s important to know what we are talking about, and exactly what Junior’s morals look like (I refuse to provide a link, however).

pic Facebook

pic Facebook

Here’s a sample of his output. In 2016 Junior wrote the following, on The Pickering Post.

“… the likely next Prime Minister of Australia, the supposedly Catholic Tony Abbott, also believes that a boy can be a girl.

“In fact, he has written a glowing endorsement of the Defence Force’s new version of emasculated masculinity and has puckered up with the Chief of Army’s PA, one Malcolm McGregor.

“Malcolm is a Lieutenant Colonel in the Army but also masquerades as Cate.

“He thinks that because he has had a nip here, a tuck there and popped a bunch of pills that he is now a woman…

“… Malcolm has publicly stated that he is still attracted to the ladies. And when he puts on his Army skirt and lipstick, he is allowed to hang out with them in the bathroom.”

There is a very great deal more of the same (and worse) here and there online, and if you have the stomach for it, you’re welcome to conduct your own searches. McGregor was, understandably, unable to let this sort of thing pass, and so began an ill-judged but perfectly understandable and long-running flame war between her and the Gaynors, Junior and Senior, which she now regrets. The Gaynors, evidently, don’t.

McGregor points out that Gaynor Sr has “never been charged for repeatedly breaching Defence policy and disobeying orders in relation to transgendered personnel” (he continues to refer to her by her former name only, and uses only male pronouns in his public and private utterances about her), while she was punished for her online behaviour.

McGregor was “severely chastised” by General Morrison, and now expresses regret for what she did. So imagine her devastation when she learned from The Australian this weekend that, far from being disciplined in his turn, Gaynor Snr was to be compensated!

Gaynor Senior, who is close to certain prominent members of the Liberal Party in Victoria, says he decided to make the offer from Defence, and its judgement of McGregor, public, in an attempt to cruel her chances of being named Australian of the Year. According to the Australian, the legal letter from Defence said:

“Defence will pay you $25,000 (gross) less any applicable taxation in full and final settlement of any claims you may have against Defence with ­respect to the issues you have raised about your grievance concerning the comments made by (then lieutenant colonel) McGregor on social media, and Defence’s handling of that matter.

“the allegation of ­unacceptable behaviour by (then lieutenant colonel) McGregor ­towards you is substantiated. I have recommended that (a female officer) formally counsel ­(Mc­Gregor)”.

Yet despite orders to do so, Major Gaynor Sr – who has rejected the money – still refuses to stop using McGregor’s former name, or to stop using male pronouns to refer to her, because he “cannot be ­ordered to lie”. It seems the good old double standard is once more alive and kicking in our Defence Forces. The man is offered compensation, while the woman is thrown under the bus.


Things are a little different over in New York where human rights laws and bodies have teeth.

“The New York City Commission On Human Rights has officially banned willful misuse of gender pronouns as part of a new update to the city’s 1945 Human Rights Law.

The new guidance, released on December 21, will fine employers, landlords and service providers up to $250,000 for deliberately addressing individuals by the wrong name or gender pronouns.

New York City defines “gender” as one’s “actual or perceived sex and shall also include a person’s gender identity, self-image, appearance, behavior or expression, whether or not that gender identity, self-image, appearance, behavior or expression is different from that traditionally associated with the legal sex assigned to that person at birth.”

The new guidance can impose a civil penalty fine “up to $125,000 for violations, and up to $250,000 for violations that are the result of willful, wanton, or malicious conduct.””

The Gaynors would not be able to get away with their vilification in the Land Of The Free!

About the author

Veteran gay writer and speaker, Doug was one of the founders of the UKs pioneering GLBTI newspaper Gay News (1972) , and of the second, Gay Week, and is a former Features Editor of Him International. He presented news and current affairs on JOY 94.9 FM Melbourne for more than ten years. "Doug is revered, feared and reviled in equal quantities, at times dividing people with his journalistic wrath. Yet there is no doubt this grandpa-esque bear keeps everyone abreast of anything and everything LGBT across the globe." (Daniel Witthaus, "Beyond Priscilla", Clouds of Magellan, Melbourne, 2014)