Trans veterans dismayed by president's policy plans regarding military service
President Donald Trump’s decision to reverse an Obama-era ruling that allowed transgender individuals to serve in the military roiled veterans who said a soldier's gender identity shouldn't disqualify them from serving their country.
"You'll never meet a transsexual coward. That's one reason they're ideal for the military," Stephanie Heck, a trans woman who served in the military. "A rational opinion is you take whoever is capable of doing the job. An irrational opinion is to limit your military options.”
Trump said in a series of tweets his position was motivated by “generals and military experts” who said transgender individuals incur “tremendous medical costs” and cause “disruption.”
But trans-veterans said the announcement felt like a personal attack against the community.
“I was hurt. I was in shock,” Sierra Davis, a U.S. Marine Corp. Veteran from Texas said. If I were currently serving, I would be terrified.
Air Force veteran Lyles MacFarland added, "we were making progress, when he does stuff like this he not only sets us back in the military, he sets us back in the country in terms of trans rights."
McFarland went as far as crediting the military for saving her life.
"I got out of the military in 2010 and a few years later, I finally reached a breaking point, where i either transitioned or I would have succeeded in killing myself," she said.
"if I had not gotten that care, I would not have been able to afford the medication, the blood tests, anything," McFarland continued. "I wouldn't have had the ability or the courage to actually pursue transition. “If it wasn't for [veterans affairs], I would not be here. I can guarantee I would be dead right now."
Stephanie Heart, a Purple Heart recipient, said she was one of the first troops deployed to Afghanistan. She said Don’t Ask Don’t Tell kept her from disclose her true gender identity.
"If I would have said ‘this is who I am,’ then I would have been gone,” she said. "Trans people are Americans too. We have a right to fight, we have the right to lay down our lives for our country just like anyone else."
Other veterans like Blue Montana were left wondering how the president’s policy plan would affect those already enlisted in the armed forces.