Embracing Diversity at GovCIO with Chelsea Bumgarner

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Join us in celebrating Pride Month with a special spotlight on Chelsea Bumgarner, a valued member of the GovCIO team. As a proud member of the LGBTQ+ community, Chelsea’s journey embodies resilience, authenticity, and empowerment. Learn more about Chelsea’s inspiring story and her contributions to DEI&A at GovCIO.

A Spotlight on Chelsea Bumgarner

Meet Chelsea Bumgarner, a skilled Systems Architect at GovCIO and Air Force veteran. Chelsea’s journey as a transgender woman reflects her resilience and commitment to authenticity, enriching our workplace with her diverse perspective.

I’m a woman. I suppose I’ve always known that. Growing up in the 70’s, in the middle of a small Appalachian town in Pennsylvania, I was never allowed to be anything but “boy.” I was the youngest of five children, and while I wanted to be with the girls and be in a dress, or be girly, I was always with the boys. I learned very early that to be anything but masculine would get me a beating from my father or bullied from other kids.

After I graduated school and joined the military, I was brought to San Antonio with the Air Force. The military seemed the best way to get out of my small hometown location. After joining, I quickly learned “don’t ask, don’t tell” didn’t mean much. Being around the military, I heard many anti-LGBTQ+ remarks, and became quite adept at hiding who I was. I was made to realize that in order to have a successful career, I needed to be straight, non-LGBTQ+ especially as I had a clearance and knew I had a successful career ahead of me working around the military. I separated after 4 years, and spent the next 20 years keeping my life secret.

When COVID hit it was a wake-up call.

I was laid off shortly after COVID hit and during that time I decided to start transitioning. I was working 100% remote which allowed for this. In 2021, I made the transition public. My wife and I walked through the process together, and I’m so much happier than I ever was. We’re now advocates for LGBTQ+. As a transgender woman and subsequent LGBTQ+ couple, we lead worship in church, participate in myriad groups online, volunteer with the Pride Center, and do what we can to advocate and make life easier for others who identify LGBTQ+. We advocate so that others don’t have to go through what I went through, and know that there are others out there to help them.

Come As You Are

Pride Month Spotlight

Over the years, I always hid who I was from the military/DoD areas I worked in. However, serving the military openly through GovCIO has been a wonderful experience and I haven’t had any issues at all being who I am.

I am very open about who I am as a transgender woman. I make it known I am approachable and to ask me anything. I’ll answer any question someone has, and there are plenty. Something as simple as, “Why are pronouns so important?” or “I have a child who’s considering, can you point me to a counselor, etc.”. My wife and I started a “Transgender Surgery Experience” page on Facebook in 2021, and we shared my journey, and encourage others who join the group to share theirs. From insurance, to what before and after care looks like, etc. I also work at the local Pride Center as a co-facilitator for a “women in transition” group.

Recently, I had the honor of serving as a speaker on two panels at the 2024 LGBTQIA+ Initiatives Team (LIT) Symposium held at the Pentagon in Washington, D.C. During these panels, I shared my personal journey and shed light on the transgender experience within the DoD workplace. It was a remarkable opportunity to educate and foster dialogue, contributing to greater awareness and understanding.

“Serving the military openly through GovCIO has been a wonderful experience and I haven’t had any issues at all being who I am.”

Chelsea Bumgarner
GovCIO Systems Architect

Pride Month Reflection

Pride Month is a great time for the country as a whole to be exposed to education and consideration of what it’s like to be LGBTQ+. I think so much of the anti-LGBTQ+ sentiment comes from a lack of information or understanding. The events, the parades, fairs, etc., and the encouragement from companies and corporations to express support of Pride Month all act as an information catalyst. Pride Month provides a focus on the differences, and from that focus, comes education and acceptance.

Social Responsibility at GovCIO

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Black and white photograph of Mount Rushmore.
Black and white image of Mount Rushmore with dark blue background color.
Black and white photograph of Mount Rushmore.