'Don't Ask, Don't Tell': Transgender Officers On Secretly Serving In The U.S. Military (VIDEO)

"Don't Ask, Don't Tell" may have been repealed a year ago, but transgender people are still banned from serving in the military. Tackling the issue is HuffPost Live's Marc Lamont Hill, who is joined by former U.S. Navy pilot Brynn Tannehill, legal director for Service Members Legal Defense Network David McKean, President of Transgender American Vetrans Association Monica Helms, Communications Director at Outserve Sue Fulton, and Olivia, who is a transgender service member currently serving in the U.S. Navy.

Brynn, a transgender former U.S. Navy Pilot, noted, "I always really, really, really wanted to fly...I felt like I could fake it until I make it, and unfortunately it doesn't work out that way."

Sue Fulton discussed why transgender people have such a strong military presence, "There's several theories. You join the military to 'become a man.'" She continued, "I do think that a trans man in the military can be 'very butch,' and if you're still wrestling with that idea it [the military] can be a safe place. But if you're fighting that male identity, it can be a difficult place."

So why leave the transgender community out of the military, and why didn't the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" repeal change status for transgendered service members? David McKean says, "'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' didn't address transgender service, so repealing DADT didn't have an affect on transgender service." He continued, "Its a regulatory ban, and if the military decided to lift the regulatory ban it would be possible for transgenders to serve."

Olivia was born a male and at 12-years-old realized she was female, but is identified as a male in the military. "One of the reasons I went into the military was I thought of the military as a way of 'fixing' me." She continued, "Its a hyper-structured environment so you don't get a whole lot of free time to explore things that are not socially acceptable."

When asked how does it feel to be mis-gendered, Olivia responded, "On the job its something that I take in stride and roll with. There are times when it gets awkward, like in medical. Its not something I can really fight, so I take it how I can."

Monica Helms wonders when the U.S. Military will catch up. "The British allows them to serve, the Australians allow them to serve. Its an issue we need to address."

Watch the full discussion and segment in the video above.



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