‘In this uniform I am still legally female’: A transgender Army Staff Sergeant on Trump’s military ban

He has served in the army for ten years

Ash Whaley, a transgender Army Staff Sergeant, has been serving in the military for ten years. He was stationed in Iraq in 2007, and now the future of his career is uncertain because of Trump’s transgender military ban.

Whaley started his transition from female to male nearly four years ago. While in the military, he identified as a female from 2007-2013, and began his transition in 2014.

The Tab spoke with him about Trump’s transgender military ban and his experience in the military.

What were your initial thoughts when Trump initiated the ban of transgender personnel serving in the military?

I found out about it through Facebook while I was in Louisiana for a Joint Readiness Training Center rotation for the military. My first initial reaction was shock, and then I became worried about my career and what was going to happen to me while I was here. I wondered if the last ten years of my life spent defending my country was going to be ruined by someone who has never served a day in his life. But then I put on my boots and continued with my day.

What are your struggles being transgender in the military?

My biggest issue is not exactly being able to be who I am while in my uniform. As the transgender policy is being integrated into the military, it is all still new to units and people in leadership — they are still trying to understand it themselves. I have to follow the policy while going through the process of changing all my documentation. So that means while in this uniform I am still legally “female.”

Do you feel more support from your peers, family and friends after Trump’s ban than you did before?

When the ban was announced I had a lot of support from all of my friends. They reassured me that they would fight for me and my rights to fight for this country.

Do you think the positive response against Trump’s ban is bringing more awareness to the LGBTQ community, especially the transgender community?

The ban has definitely brought more awareness for the LGBTQ community and transgender individuals. People who might not have stepped forward before are doing so now and fighting for transgender rights. Although there are a lot of people who will say negative comments about transgender individuals in the military, the number of supporters outweighs the negativity.

If transgender people in the military would all stand together and prove that we are worthy to fight for this country, that we are not a burden, and that the medical cost is just a theory, we can beat this. I will continue to fight for this country and continue to love doing my job until they force me to stop, and then I will fight back.