transgender service members speak out after Trump announced he would ban them

Dozens of Transgender members of the US military have spoken out after President Donald Trump said they would be barred from serving ‘in any capacity’ on Wednesday.
‘I would like to see them try to kick me out of my military,’ US Air Force Staff Sgt. Logan Ireland told the Air Force Times.
A Marine military police officer who asked not to be named also told the Times: ‘I have never described myself as trans; I’m a motherf***ing Marine. That’s all that matters. Don’t tarnish my title with your bigotry and fear of the unknown.’

‘I would like to see them try to kick me out of my military,’ US Air Force Staff Sgt. Logan Ireland (pictured in uniform, left, and right) said Wednesday

Trump’s announcement that he would bar transgender people from serving in the military is a reversal of a policy instituted in the last year of Obama’s administration (pictured, Obama with Ireland and wife Laila Ireland, who is also trans)

During the last year of the Obama administration, former Defense Secretary Ash Carter instituted a policy allowing transgender people to serve openly in the military.
But he also gave the military a year to come up with a way to implement the policy.
On Wednesday morning, Trump was intent on reversing that policy, sending out a series of tweets saying transgender people wouldn’t be allowed to serve in the U.S. military ‘in any capacity’.
‘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,’ Trump wrote.
‘Thank you,’ he concluded.
Despite the president’s announcement, Ireland vowed to continue serving, saying: ‘You are not going to deny me my right to serve my country when I am fully qualified and able and willing to give my life.’

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President Donald Trump tweeted about a new U.S. military policy on transgender individuals Wednesday morning
Army Reservist Rudy Akbarian, 26, said he would not leave the armed forces without a fight.
His chain-of-command was supportive of him as he transitioned from female to male.
Now, he said: ‘Everybody is hurt. Everybody is scared. This is people’s lives we’re talking about. People who enlisted nearly 20 years ago and now 18 or 19 years in, now that’s being taken away and they don’t get to retire?’
Blake Dremann, 36, a transgender, active-duty Navy lieutenant commander in Washington, said he will continue to serve ‘regardless of what was said today.’
‘Trans service members are continuing to do our jobs,’ said Dremann, president of SPARTA a trans advocacy group.

Army Reservist Rudy Akbarian, 26, said he would not leave the armed forces without a fight.
His chain-of-command was supportive of him as he transitioned from female to male.
Now, he said: ‘Everybody is hurt. Everybody is scared. This is people’s lives we’re talking about. People who enlisted nearly 20 years ago and now 18 or 19 years in, now that’s being taken away and they don’t get to retire?’
Blake Dremann, 36, a transgender, active-duty Navy lieutenant commander in Washington, said he will continue to serve ‘regardless of what was said today.’
‘Trans service members are continuing to do our jobs,’ said Dremann, president of SPARTA a trans advocacy group.

Sgt. Jack Schuler, a transgender man serving as a chemical operations specialist in the Army Reserve, told the Air Force Times: ‘I love serving this country and its people. I love being a part of this military family.
‘My dream is to retire after a long career. I’m not going anywhere, anytime soon.’
Not everyone was so confident, however. US Army Staff Sgt. Patricia King, who has served three tours in Afghanistan, wrote: ‘Did I just get fired…via tweet?’
She added: ‘This is a concerning turn of events. Please keep trans service members in your prayers and call your representatives.’
Trump’s announcement did not acknowledge what would happen to the 15,000 trans people already serving in the military.
It is unclear exactly how President Trump’s new policy will affect transgender people already serving. In a short statement, the Pentagon said it will work with the White House and ‘will provide revised guidance to the department in the near future.’

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Combat veteran Shane Ortega, who served in the Army and Marines for more than a decade, told MSNBC: ‘My immediate reaction was this is a completely egotistical move on behalf of Donald Trump.’
Ortega went on to say he thought Trump was using transgender service members as a ‘pawn’ to ‘invoke some sort of emotional reaction from the public to circumvent his own investigations.’
He added that troops who are forced out may get a bad conduct discharge for being transgender, jeopardizing their VA benefits and future.
‘That’s the equivalent of being a convicted felon in American society,’ said Ortega, 30, who transitioned to a male in 2009, seven years before leaving the military after serving multiple combat tours in Iraq and Afghanistan. ‘They will not get gainful employment.’

Paula M. Neira, who left the Navy in 1991 and transitioned to female after leaving active duty, said she was angry at Trump’s announcement. It brought up bad memories for the naval officer, who served on Sept. 11, 2001.
She said the commander in chief is sending the message that the country does not want transgender troops.
‘Nobody who is willing to volunteer to defend our country should ever be told that they’re not fit because of other people’s prejudice, and not because of any military necessity,’ she said.
Veteran Alaina Kupec, a Navy intelligence officer from 1992 until 1995, said she felt ‘heartbreak’ after she heard about Trump’s tweet. The 48-year-old transitioned to life as a woman in 2013.

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‘It just really saddened me for the transgender sailors and soldiers who are serving around the world today and are selflessly giving themselves to protect our country,’ said Kupec, who lives in Orange, New Jersey.
Air Force veteran Vanessa Sheridan said transgender people have always served in the military but now they are going to have to hide their identities if there is a new policy.
‘My biggest concern now is going to be that transgender people are going to be forced back into the closet,’ said Sheridan, a transgender woman who works as an LGBT activist in Chicago.

Emma Shinn, 41, a transgender woman who served in the Marine Corps for 20 years before retiring in 2014, said it was incredibly stressful to work under the military’s previous policy that banned LGBT service members.
‘It creates a gulf between the service member and his or her fellow Marines,’ said Shinn, who lives in Castle Rock, Colorado.
What matters most is if ‘you have my back in a firefight,’ Shinn said.

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