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Being a trans woman openly serving in the US Army through the transgender military ban has proven to be a challenging experience. After growing up in a rural conservative area where LGBT rights were seemingly nonexistent, I left and enlisted in the Army. I spent most of my career in the Infantry and have served multiple deployments including a 2010 tour to Afghanistan where I was struck by an improvised explosive device earning the Purple Heart medal. Following President Obama making the ranks of the US military inclusive to transgender service, I was finally able to serve as my authentic self. In April 2019, President Trump passed a discriminatory ban on transgender service which prevents any trans individuals from joining the US military and serving their country. Further, any service members who are honorably serving will face discharge for identifying as transgender and beginning to transition. Although I have been allowed to continue serving, I do so in a discriminatory environment that deems me unfit for duty, despite my years of service to my country. I hope to continue serving and to be an advocate who can bring positive change for all of the service members that come after me regardless of their gender identity or sexual orientation.
While transitioning has brought me more happiness and peace than I could have ever imagined, it still surprises me how one hateful individual can suck all the wind out of my sails. Being intentionally misgendered by people can leave me in a haze of sadness that can be tough to shake and really amplify my dysphoria. Additionally, continuing to serve my country while there is a ban on my service because of my gender makes me feel weak. After sacrificing as much as I have over 14 years, it’s very hurtful to feel this unappreciated by my country and current administration, especially while struggling with PTSD and a traumatic brain injury sustained in combat. While it hurts to stay, it’s also terrifying to leave the only world I’ve ever known.
Through the trans mil ban, it is extremely difficult for active duty service members to access gender affirming health care through the military’s health insurance. I have surgery scheduled for early 2021 and appreciates help as all costs are out of pocket.