LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — A transgender Arkansas veteran is opening up after the Supreme Court’s decision to uphold the Trump Administration’s ban on certain transgender people in the military.
The high court split 5-4 Tuesday, allowing the ban to take effect for now. The case is still pending in the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, and the Supreme Court will not weigh in on the constitutionality of the ban itself until after that ruling. It also reverses a 2016 decision by the Obama administration to open the military to transgender service members.
"I feel like a lot of people are gravitating towards fear of the misunderstood,” one Arkansas veteran said.
Asking us not to reveal his identity, a transgender Arkansas veteran decided to speak with THV11 following the ban. He served six years in the Air Force with two deployments from 2010-2016. He said he felt the need to give back and serve his country after high school.
"I grew up in a military family. 9/11 was a big motivator for me,” he said.
Born female, he fully transitioned only after retiring from the Air Force in 2016.
"At the time I was a woman identifying as a lesbian. Even being a lesbian was kind of a little touchy subject,” he said. "It's definitely something that's under the wraps."
He said placing a ban on certain transgender people from serving is an insult to his sacrifice.
"It's already hard enough to be open and out. Let alone being rejected by the one community you thought had your back through thick and thin,” he said.
Tuesday's court decision means transgender people are barred unless they serve as their biological sex and don't seek to undergo a gender transition. President Trump proposed the plan on Twitter back in 2017.
“A lot of the reason why I chose to serve was to give back to a community and it feels like they don’t want to give back to me for giving a lot up,” he said.
The Arkansas veteran said all he ever wanted was to fight for his country, and gender is not something that should be getting in the way of others doing the same.
"If anyone has any questions about transgender people, please don't hesitate to reach out to somebody in a tactful manner. And it's hard to move forward if you don't learn because I promise transgendered people are not going anywhere,” he said.
The top court's ruling is not a mandate, but it has opened up the option for the military to enforce the ban.
It's also unclear if transgender individuals impacted by the policy will be immediately discharged.