Transgender vet on POTUS decision: 'A slap in the face' - Tucson News Now

Transgender vet on POTUS decision: 'A slap in the face'

(Source: Tucson News Now) (Source: Tucson News Now)
TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) -

Fifteen years of dedicated service from 1975-1990. That's how long Kristyn Weed spent in the Army. 

But now, 17 years removed from that time in the military, the transgender woman has a feeling of worry washing over her.

"Of those that haven't come out yet that might be thinking about it, they're back in the closet," Weed said. "Of those that have come out and are openly, actively serving as transgender service members, are scared to death. Are they going to be separated from service? Are they going to get honorably discharged? Are they going to get a court martial? What's going to happen to them?"

The announcement on Wednesday has left those transgender military members in limbo.

According to a CBS News report, incoming White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said President Donald Trump's administration will work to implement his new ban on transgender people in the military lawfully, but she did not supply details on if, how, or when transgender service members will have to leave their posts. 

Weed is worried those transgender members will go back into hiding, like she did.

"I knew at the age of 4 or 5 years old that I was a girl - I should've been born a girl. I joined the military to do everything I could to get the girl out of me. Of course, it didn't work. I had to hide."

A series of tweets from President Trump announced the decision Wednesday morning, July 26.

"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," the three Tweets from @realDonaldTrump stated.

It was a decision that stunned Weed.

"That's just beyond belief. The campaign promise he made that he was going to fight for the LGBT community stronger than Hillary (Clinton) would - that's just a slap in the face," she said.

But arguments were made at the Veterans of Foreign Wars Hall 4903 on East Bellevue Street in Tucson, with some veterans echoing the president's feelings that transgender members are a "disruption."

"Personally, I don't feel like the guys in the military like that," said Paul Crane, an Army and Navy Veteran from 1966-1989. "I don't want them in the military. Because it disrupts morale."

But Abby Jensen, a transgender woman who also works with the Southern Arizona Gender Alliance group, cites studies that say being openly transgender
in the military has little to no impact on readiness and unit cohesion
.

"It has a very positive effect on readiness, and unit cohesiveness, and all of those things, as opposed to a transgender person who's depressed, hiding in the closet, and weary at every moment if somebody is going to notice, 'Did I get my mascara off?'" Jensen said.

Other veterans in the VFW Hall appeared to be unaffected by LGBTQ members in military service.

"As long as they're physically fit, and going to be there when you need them, and do their job - what the hell? No big deal," said Greg Baker, a Navy veteran from 1963-1968.

Regardless of belief, a RAND Study estimate of roughly 2,400 active transgender military personnel and about 1,500 more in selected reserve are being told by the president to go home.

"You join the military to serve and to give your life to your country if that's what's needed. Because that's what you believe in," Weed said. "To have that taken from you is pretty hard to swallow."

President Trump cited the economic impact of "tremendous medical costs" needed for transgender military members as a reason for his decision.

In a June 2016 study, the RAND Corporation looked into the health care costs for transgender military members. You can read more about it here.  

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