Lieutenant Colonel Anastasia Biefang has had a unique military career in the Bundeswehr because she was the first trans woman to become a battalion commander. She is proud of this role, of the solidarity and the diversity of the group.
Now not only is she sobered up, but everyone who has painted the day-to-day work of the armed forces in rainbow colors. The 2nd Military Service Senate of the Federal Administrative Court has confirmed a disciplinary reprimand against Biefang, which the soldier received because of her Tinder appearance (Az.: 2 WRB 2.21). On the contact portal, she advertised with the words: “Spontaneous, lustful, trans*, open relationship looking for sex. All genders welcome.”
The reasoning of the court is remarkable and also makes many in politics sit up and take notice. The Senate emphasizes the right to sexual self-determination. Biefang could therefore opt for “promiscuous sexual behavior”; the protection of their basic rights extends beyond the intimate and private sphere into the social zone of the Tinder world. As the commander of a thousand subordinates, however, she had to observe the off-duty duty of good behavior as laid down in the Soldiers’ Act.
The court’s press release – the written verdict will follow in a few weeks – must be read carefully: Biefang must avoid formulations in her Tinder profile that give the wrong (!) impression of a random sex life and a significant lack of character integrity. This happens with the “search for sex”, where “all genders are welcome”. In any case, a “reasonable observer” must come to such conclusions.
According to the judge’s findings, Biefang herself, so one can interpret, neither leads an indiscriminate sex life nor does she suffer from character defects. Her wrongdoing is that the wording of her self-offering might make anyone think so.
With regard to the art of interpretation, one will be able to accept the judgment even if one does not share the result. The Federal Administrative Court is not a place from which impulses emanate; the “understanding observer” lives here behind thick walls. Rather, the attitude of Biefang’s superiors to have sanctioned such an action at all seems questionable. They are the ones who repeatedly have to define in the everyday life of the armed forces what is off-duty and what is not.
If the “search for sex” undermines the morale of the troops, the Bundeswehr will have a problem with recruiting new recruits. In addition, this search is already immanent when registering with Tinder. The fact that “all genders are welcome” testifies to an openness that could become a slogan for recruiting.
Of course, as the superiors are right, there must also be limits where such self-exposure can become precarious for the reputation and respect of the Bundeswehr. Ms. Biefang’s choice of words had not yet reached them. Anyone who pleads for freedom here must also accept it, however, when an older white hetero general openly embarks on a Tinder bride show. Or would it be a disciplinary case if he was looking for “young women” for his sex life there?