SEATTLE — A new policy has changed the rules for transgender service members. Although the Department of Defense insists it's not a "ban," it prohibits people from enlisting in the armed forces if they have transitioned from their "biological sex" to another gender.
The policy change triggered outrage across the country including in Seattle where a group gathered to protest Saturday.
“When they push you down you have to get back up,” Trish King told the crowd.
King serves in the U.S. Army and said this has been a difficult time for many in the trans community.
“One of the most troublesome things is the roller coaster of policy and the lack of clear policy that has done more to damage the military than transgender service members ever could,” she said.
King transitioned in 2015 and believes those in the trans community enrich the military.
“Open transgender service, just like any other minority group, brings a different perspective, brings a different authenticity and it allows for teams to work at a higher efficiency,” King said.
There is high profile support to reverse the policy including Congressman Adam Smith (D-Bellevue) who is chairman of the house armed services committee.
“It's hard with a president who is so unhinged. Who on a day in and day out policy makes up a policy, goes back and forth on it, has no grounding in the reality of public policy,” he explained.
Smith believes they can change the policy with legislation this summer
“It's all based on ignorance, it's based on people not understanding what it means to be a trans-gendered person in this country,” Smith said.
He said the ban should be lifted for practical reasons, as well.
“The military is not meeting its recruitment goals right now and if we have able-bodied people who are able to serve to discriminate against them is just stupid,” the congressman said.
Event organizer Lindsay Church served in the Navy during the "don't ask, don't tell" policy and believes this situation is even worse.
“Living like that, living in fear, living two lives essentially; that's more disruptive to morale, order, and discipline than any person serving authentically by themselves,” she said.
King worries in addition to keeping some out of the military, the policy will lead to increased discrimination for those still serving. She shared her story in the hope it would change hearts, minds, and ultimately policies.