President Joe Biden signed an executive order to allow transgender people to join the military. For one transgender man on the Central Coast, the order brings a renewed hope for the transgender community.
“For me, it’s being part of something bigger than myself,” said Blaine Walters, an openly transgender man in Paso Robles, who has been trying to enlist in the United States Army for the past four years. But in 2019, former President Donald Trump issued an order that banned transgender people from enlisting in the military.
“I’m on my second recruiter right now. It gets frustrating,” said Walters about his attempts to join the Army.
Now with Biden’s executive order, transgender people can join and openly serve without the fear of being turned away.
“At the end of the day, what does it matter what your gender is? If you’re wearing a uniform and laying down your life for your country, you should be able to serve,” said Walters. “People that have already started transitioning that are already in, they don’t have to have this fear or cloud that they’re not going to be able to continue to wear the uniform.”
Biden’s executive order states:
“It shall be the policy of the United States to ensure that all transgender individuals who wish to serve in the United States military and can meet the appropriate standards shall be able to do so openly and free from discrimination.”
Jamie Woolf, Chair of Tranz Central Coast, says the executive order was a morale booster for those in the transgender community.
“For the transgender community at large, we really believe that the key to greeting full acceptance in this culture is to have people get to know us, work with us, and see us every day and realize that we are just like everyone else,” said Woolf. “We are humans, we have skills, we have something to offer, and we are normal people.”
For transgender people interested in joining the United States military, Walters says to keep pushing and not give up on your dream of fighting for your country.
“People do get discouraged. There have been times that I’ve wanted to give up because it’s been four years. I’m not going to give up, and I think people shouldn’t give up,” said Walters.
As of 2019, nearly 15,000 members of United States military branches identified as transgender.