We Are Not Expendable

Olivia Jaramillo discusses the hypocrisy of the transgender military ban and the toll it takes on those who are serving

I have served a total of 20 years in active duty service in the Air Force. During this time, I have seen people from all walks of life join the service. I still remember the day that I found out an Airman in the barracks at my first duty station was selling drugs and provided them to other Airmen, for a fee of course. This didn’t last long as he was caught and sent to Fort Leavenworth (the military equivalent of prison). Some years later, another Airmen had successfully created a ring of benefits. He manipulated Airmen from different parts of the base to be in “cahoots” with him on providing services for people inside this ring. These services consisted of receiving free gas for their personal vehicles from the government vehicle pumps (not accessible to the public), receiving certain pharmaceutical drugs without a prescription, receiving slight pay increases, giving people in the ring different types of military ID cards (Enlisted, Officer, Civilian). He was caught and sent away as well.

During my time I have also seen a Command Chief Master Sergeant get caught for running a swinger sex ring, in which he promised young (18-19-year-old girls) Airmen promotions if they joined the sex ring. All of these things are bad, and they cost the government time and assets to investigate and then to put away the perpetrators. One distinct thing about this is that none of those members were identified as transgender, but they indeed were disrupting the continued service the military provides.

Another thing I have seen is transgender men and women serving with dignity. I have seen a trans man present military funeral honors for a deceased veteran who died in combat. I have seen a transgender woman be promoted to the ranks of non-commissioned officer. I have seen a transgender woman serving in San Antonio where she aids in the successful initiation of thousands of Airmen each year, and that is without mentioning those pioneers who led the way when being transgender was still banned in the military.

"WE ARE BEING TOLD WE ARE NOT GOOD ENOUGH TO STAND UP AND DEFEND OUR COUNTRY..."

Now, we as a community are being persecuted again. This time the Supreme Court has decided to allow the ban on transgender men and women who want to serve or who are currently serving to be upheld. We are being told we are not good enough to stand up and defend our country; that we are handicapped from being equal to everyone else. This new policy is supposed to grandfather in the trans community who are currently serving, but without receiving medical aid for transition (I wonder if this would include mental health services as well).

If we are limiting transgender service, why not limit people who suffer from asthma or chronic back pain (a big problem in the military)? People with those mentioned conditions cost the military more time and money than any other medical condition. The deceitful individuals I mentioned earlier, the drugs, the stolen assets, the sex ring, all of those were not caused by transgender service members.

Our community is not an expendable figure. We should not be used as smoke and mirrors for anyone to use to take away the focus of a seemingly unending government shutdown.

It hurts to be attacked directly by the highest in the land. The individual, who should be an example for all Americans, our leader, is telling me that after 20 years of service I am lucky to be grandfathered in to his version of the armed forces. I fear a re-election; I fear six more years of this torture.

"...WHAT WE WANT IS TO SERVE OUR COUNTRY WITHOUT BEING HARASSED BY OUR OWN PRESIDENT."

I am sick of how every six months, this story surfaces again and again. If people wonder why I feel anxious, it’s because I am not able to serve my country with a peaceful mind. I am constantly being targeted by this ban. My superiors keep checking on me and all the other trans men and women. “Are we ok?” or “Please let us know if you need anything.” While it is nice for them to care for us, what we want is to serve our country without being harassed by our own president.

And this isn’t just about our community members serving in the military, our very identities have been targeted when they withdrew guidance to schools to provide accommodations, including access to bathrooms and locker rooms, based on their self-identified gender. Not even six months ago, this presidency moved to limit our civil rights in what seems a political move leading up to the November elections.

More than ever we cannot lose focus of our goals. We cannot afford to bicker amongst our own community. We must be more united than ever, supporting our advocates and proving to the world that we are human beings worthy of respect just like anybody else. This happening the day after celebrating the great Martin Luther King Jr., how much progress has our society truly made?

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Sharlie Carma
Sharlie Carma

Okay, so if the military has learned to adapt to increase its power and effectiveness by looking past race, women in combat, etc, how is this any different? Top military leaders get their information from the boots on ground. Is it crazy to agree with ALL of them? Apparently so. This is the only commander-in-chief I've ever seen or served under that created presidential oversight on military rules and regulations. It makes me physically ill. All i know is that I'm glad the VA does not agree with this ban/policy.



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