The Fight Continues

Olivia Jaramillo ponders the uncertainty on her first day serving as a transgender woman in the Air Force under President Trump’s military ban.

Imagine you are at a quick oil change store, and you’re waiting for your car to be serviced in the waiting area. You’re playing on your phone, and then on the television, the news is saying that your boss is going to fire you. Yes, that is how I found out about Trump’s directive to ban transgender men and women from serving in the military. It has not been personally the most pleasant month for me since Trump‘s announcement in late July, and this is truly devastating news; the proverbial icing on the cake. This is not meant as a rant. This is more of a demonstration to show how a transgender woman serving in the military struggles. Not only struggling with all the things that come with being transgender, but to show that we have lives as well. There’s more to us than being trans.

I predicted in my article about the day after “the tweet,” that the fight was not over, and it isn’t. Sifting through Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, I see so many people standing up for us. I have heard of organizations that are planning to counter the President’s directive, and it does make me feel good. However, here around me in my community, it’s quiet. Suburban Utah is not known for liberalism, but the one thing I see is that people feel detached from that specific situation. I live surrounded by homes, picket fences, families of four to ten, LDS churches full on Sundays with little girls in beautiful dresses and the boys matching the dad in a suit and tie, mommy in a dress holding the youngest of the family in her arms. It’s as if I lived in a different dimension to “the cyber wars” that happen nowadays.

“WHERE DO I FIT INTO MY COMMUNITY? IT ALWAYS LEAVES ME UNCERTAIN OF MYSELF.”

Where do I fit into my community? It always leaves me uncertain of myself. Am I passing so well now that nobody notices the transgender woman living among all these conservative homes? Do these people around me feel so safe from “the transgenders” because they think there are none around? I wonder how do they see the news and what do they think of the directive Trump signed. As I write this, the sun is rising, the cool air of the early morning comes thru my window, I see early runners doing their weekend routes and they don’t know what I’m struggling with.

This directive has made me feel a great shame. It makes us feel not good enough. I have an obligation to obey that man’s orders. 18 years ago, I took an oath to obey the orders of the President, but I never envisioned America would come to this so as to put a reality television star and businessman in the most powerful position on the planet.

This directive makes me second-guess my transitioning in the military. It makes me doubt who I am. But beyond that it makes me sad that I live surrounded by a majority of people who don’t really want me to be here, to exist. A majority that wishes I was dead instead of serving in their military. I’m not sure what cry or what rally can bring me out of this despair. Because When I am in uniform, I must be an assertive, knowledgeable military member, and I try to translate that out of uniform, but with this directive, it’s getting to be too much. The road before me is becoming full of thorns, and I know, I just know that he is going to be re-elected. There’s nothing we can do to stop it.

Our country is full of bigotry and hate. It’s as if the great racial divide has brought about different subcategories of segregation. Just in the last ten years we elected the first black president of the United States of America, and immediately after we elected the polar opposite. The current President at times seems to on purpose rile up the nation just to get people talking about him, and so many respond to his tyrannical despotism and feel empowered to show their phobias. Our nation is divided; we must admit that.

“I HAVE NO IDEA WHAT THIS COMING MONDAY WILL BE LIKE, RETURNING TO WORK IN A NOW PROHIBITED STATE.”

I have no idea what this coming Monday will be like, returning to work in a now prohibited state. I wonder what they think we will do, go back into the closet? I’ve often thought about that, how they can tell me to stop being who I am. They think that because they take away my medical care, they can just do away with my “trans-ness”. To me, it almost feels like they want to break us. To get us to a point where we will break, and then say, “see? I told you they were unfit for military service!”

But we have been serving for a long time. We have been here in the silence and the shadows and we are not going back into any closet no matter what they take away from us. They can take my medical care, but they will never take away who I am; a proud transgender woman.

The word diversity seems to scare so many people. It definitely scares the conservative right. I propose a new word: Unification. Let’s unify instead of divide. Let us become a kaleidoscope of colors instead of a rainbow that borders colors from each other. Let’s be vulnerable and show our humanity instead of hardening up and complying with an impossible standard. Let’s meet hate with love, and as much as we can, let the whole world into our lives to see the beauty within our souls.

Let us fight on together, not as blacks or whites, or queer or straight, but as a unified human race.

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