What It's Like Being Trans And In The Military

As hard as it is, I do it so others know that it's okay to be trans.

I am a queer trans male serving as a medic in the MN Army National Guard. I enlisted in October 2014 and identified as a female up until November 2016 when I came out as a trans male. I was terrified to come out as trans as I had no idea how people would treat me after. Prior to coming out, I would constantly hear transphobic slurs and was afraid to bring attention to myself or subject myself to that. I knew I had to be out, because I could not hide who I was and knew that I had to be authentic no matter the cost. Since coming out, I have not heard nearly as many transphobic comments from people in my unit. I’ve been extremely fortunate to have a unit that supports me and is doing everything they can to help me change my gender marker. The hardest part for me when I’m at drill is having to use the female bathrooms and sleep in the female bays. I have been yelled at by people who do not know that I am trans for using the female bathroom as I pass as a cis male. I avoid using the bathroom as much as possible as I do not want to make people uncomfortable by seeing a man use the women’s bathroom. I wait until I know that people aren’t showering to use the showers.  

I avoid using the bathroom as much as possible as I do not want to make people uncomfortable by seeing a man use the women's bathroom.

I graduated from basic training as an honor graduate, I work hard to meet and surpass all the male standards, and I always push myself to be the best that I can so that no one has any excuse to say that I am a lesser soldier for being a trans person. It’s exhausting to be trans and in the military as you feel that you have to work harder than your cis peers in order to be accepted or in order for people to see that you are worthy to be where you are. It’s tiring to be asked extremely personal questions about your body and transitioning, yet I subject myself to such things so that I can be someone to educate others. As hard as it is to be out and visible as trans at times, I do it so that people can humanize trans people and so that other people know that it is okay to be trans.

ThIs past week has been infuriating with Trump trying to bring back the ban as it feels like a stab in the back. I have immense pride in wearing my uniform and I would die for my country and fellow service member and to be told that my being trans to the government is a burden is extremely degrading and invalidating. To all the trans people and trans allies reading this, don’t give up, the fight is not over. Keep fighting for equality and keep resisting. To all the trans folk out there, never forget that you are valid, worthy, and beyond brave.