President Donald Trump’s recently stated ban on transgender troops in the U.S. military leaves as many as 6,600 currently serving service members unsure of their future.
Trump’s unexpected announcement came Wednesday in a series of tweets.
“After consultation with my Generals and military experts, please be advised that the United States Government will not accept or allow….Transgender individuals to serve in any capacity in the U.S. Military. Our military must be focused on decisive and overwhelming….victory and cannot be burdened with the tremendous medical costs and disruption that transgender in the military would entail. Thank you,” Trump wrote.
Texas Standard spoke with a member of the Air Force who wishes to remain anonymous because of uncertainty about her ongoing status as a transgender member of the military.
The staff sergeant says she learned of Trump’s tweets in a text message from a friend. She says she took the day off to collect herself.
“Even though I’m disheartened,” she says. “I’m just going to keep doing my job and fulfilling the mission until there’s further guidance disseminated.”
She first enlisted as a man, six years ago, and came out as transgender to her Texas-based Air Force unit in June of 2016. In October, when the Air Force released its guidelines for transgender service members, she began taking the necessary steps to formally transition. Her status as a woman in the Air Force became official just last month.
“This past year of serving openly and authentically has been the best year of my life. I would say that it’s actually promoted our unit cohesion and in no way impacts readiness,” she says of her recent transition.
She says that those who claim that health care costs for transgender service members create a burden on the military are misinformed. She says, the military pays for her hormone pills and mental health support, while she paid for her surgeries out of her own pocket.
“I think the thousands of us that are currently serving – we’re all going through this time of unknown and uncertainty waiting for some sort of guidance that will impact potentially the rest of our lives,” she says of her fellow transgender service members. “Even though that has been hard on a lot of us, we’re all still going to keep doing what we need to do to ensure that America’s military is the greatest military in the world.”
Written by Rachel Rascoe.