For Transgender Service Members, a Mix of Sadness, Anger and Fear
COLORADO SPRINGS—Joining the Navy was one of the best decisions Alec Kerry said she ever made. The other was coming out as transgender.
“The Navy taught me how people can come together and work hard to achieve something bigger than themselves,“ said Petty Officer Kerry, 24, who is training to operate nuclear reactors. “Strangely enough, I think what the Navy taught us about integrity was what gave me the courage to come out. I had to be honest about who I was with myself and the people I served with.“
Like thousands of other transgender veterans and members of the military, she grappled with a mix of anger, sadness and fear on Wednesday after President Trump tweeted that the United States military would no longer “accept or allow“ transgender people to serve — a surprise move that came a year after the Obama administration allowed transgender troops to serve openly.
Some transgender troops were left to wonder if they would face a quick discharge from the military or if scheduled medical appointments would be canceled. And nearly all expressed dismay at what they saw as a misguided action that could purge the military of untold numbers of highly skilled and dedicated service members and bring back an era when many troops lived in secrecy and shame.
“People are fearful,“ said Laila Ireland, who was an Army combat medic for 13 years before transitioning to a woman and becoming the membership director for Sparta, an L.G.B.T. military group with more than 500 active-duty members. “All morning I’ve been telling them, continue to exceed the expectations, show what you are worth.“
Her husband, Air Force Staff Sgt. Logan Ireland, who is also transgender, could not be reached because he was in a combat leadership course, but said in a text message from the field, “I would love for my President to meet me,“ adding that he would like to tell him about all the “honorably serving transgender military members that are fighting right now for their liberties and for their country.“
Since the Obama administration lifted the ban on transgender service members, public opinion has been mixed. A poll conducted by Rasmussen Reports in June found that more than half of those surveyed believed that having transgender people serve openly in the military was good for the military, or would have no impact.
But many conservatives portrayed transgender service members as people who undermined the military’s fighting capability, and they hailed the announcement.
Tony Perkins, a Marine veteran who is now president of the Family Research Council, a conservative advocacy group, issued a statement praising Mr. Trump “for keeping his promise to return to military priorities — and not continue the social experimentation of the Obama era that has crippled our nation’s military.“
现任保守派倡导团体家庭研究委员会(Family Research Council)主席托尼·帕金斯(Tony Perkins)是一名海军退役军人，他发表声明称赞特朗普，说他“恪守了恢复军事优先的承诺，而不是继续奥巴马时代削弱我们国家军队实力的社会试验。“
On Capitol Hill, Representative Vicky Hartzler had recently offered an amendment that would have barred the military from paying for sex reassignment surgery. In a statement on Wednesday, Ms. Hartzler praised Mr. Trump for taking “decisive action.“
“With the challenges we are facing across the globe, we are asking the American people to invest their hard-earned money in national defense,“ the statement said. “Each dollar needs to be spent to address threats facing our nation.“
Transgender troops pushed back hard on arguments about medical costs, noting that the estimated $2.4 million to $8.4 million a year it would cost for medical care was a fraction of the $41 million the Department of Defense spent on Viagra in 2014.
One National Guard member named Mac, who didn’t want to give his full name because he now fears being discharged, worried that the military could spend millions more on investigations to ferret out closeted transgender troops, and in the process lose career troops the military has invested in heavily.
“The government has invested hundreds of thousand of dollars into my training and my skill set. That’s not easy to replace,“ he said.