When I joined the Air Force I didn’t fathom the positive influence it would have on my life. I’d grown up in Eastern Washington, attending schools nearly 100 percent Caucasian. I didn’t know the two black students at school, nor any Hispanic people. My negative views of those groups came through comments I heard from others.
But one of my first Air Force roommates was Hispanic, a religious and devoted family man. My first NCOIC was black. He was friendly and competent, with military bearing. I soon realized that what I’d heard was false. In 1998, my son came out as gay. The negative comments I’d heard for years about gay people didn’t fit my son. He did not choose to be gay any more than someone chooses their race.
Now I see opposition to the rights of transgender people, including a presidential decree banning them from the military. Prejudices against people who are transgender are based on misunderstandings, lies, and misplaced fears. Acts and words of the fearful, ignorant, or hateful won’t change the reality that transgender people exist, nor that they have rights.
Most Americans agree that all citizens, including the LGBTQ community, have an inherent right to the blessings of equality and justice, including the right to openly serve in the military.