Transgender Army Staff Sgt. Patricia King, who transitioned from male to female over a year ago, thinks that while the Department of Defense is aggressively “leading the way” forward on social justice, the rest of the country has some serious catching up to do.
“I would not want to be stationed at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, right now. While I think that Fort Bragg is probably going to do an amazing job implementing these policies and procedures, with House Bill 2, North Carolina is not a very friendly place for a transgender person to be right now,” King, an infantry officer, said Monday in an interview with KUOW-FM. “So I think that while our Department of Defense is absolutely leading the way on gender equality and social justice, the country has some catching up to do.”
King is stationed at Joint Base Lewis-McChord in Washington state and has previously served at Fort Carson in Colorado. In both places, he says he has been treated with professionalism, but it wasn’t easy initially when he declared more than a year ago that he was making the switch from man to woman, which presented a challenge for the Pentagon.
“Everything was an issue, whether it be restroom use or the uniform that I wear, where I was housed if I was to go somewhere. All of those things were an issue,” King said.
“It was uncharted territory for so many people,” King added. “So we went through a learning process together, and I think what they discovered is that trans people are just people.”
At the time, King was still listed as a man, according to military records. As such, King had to conform to male grooming standards and wear a male uniform.
But there were some interesting exceptions made. For a urinalysis, the military said King could go see a female medical provider.
Now, new DOD regulations that come into play Monday to accommodate transgenders allow servicemembers to change their military records to reflect their newly chosen gender identity, so long as the transition is complete.
Secretary of Defense Ash Carter repealed the ban on transgenders serving openly in June. Before the ban was repealed, the services made sure to elevate discharge authority for troops suffering from gender dysphoria to the highest administrative levels, as to make sure they were allowed to keep serving, despite regulations to the contrary.
The military is set to accept transgender recruits by July 2017.
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