DALLAS (CBS11) – Nicole Perry, a transgender woman in Dallas, wasn’t happy after hearing President Trump banned transgender people from serving in the military.
Perry served as U.S. Marine. “It was a mixture of anger as well as disappointment. I had relatives who were in the military and just as they had served this country, I wanted to serve as well.”
The President announced his policy change in three tweets Wednesday morning: “After consultation with my Generals and military experts, please be advised that the United States Government will not accept or allow… Transgender individuals to serve in any capacity in the U.S. Military. Our military must be focused on decisive and overwhelming… victory and cannot be burdened with the tremendous medical costs and disruption that transgender in the military would entail. Thank you.”
Perry remembers the feeling when entering boot camp back in 2008. “This is the Marine Corps, I can do this.”
Back then, Perry’s name was Joshua, and she still has a photo from the first Marine Corps Ball.
But in 2012, a year before leaving active duty and becoming an inactive reservist, Perry says she felt different and struggled with her gender identity. “Do I stay in? Do I get out?”
A short time later, Perry says she began her transition.
When she received an honorable discharge last year, her certificate had her current name.
Perry says her time serving her country may have ended, but she says she wonders about those like her who now want to do the same. “I’m worried about those who are wanting to serve, wanting to be in the military and the only thing holding them up is being transgender.”
Others, such as Joe Stazione who also served in the Marines, agree with President Trump’s decision. “I’m totally for his decision. If that’s what the President decides to do, that’s the President’s call. We’re training war fighters. It’s not a kind business and with that said, I don’t think it has a place in the military at all.”
He says taxpayers shouldn’t have to pay for gender reassignment surgery. “You have an individual who elected to have the surgery done and they’ve elected to change their life, so that means they’ve elected their way out of the military in my eyes.”
Perry points to a 2016 study by the Rand Corporation that estimated there are about 4,000 transgender people in the military, active and reserve.
Researchers found that out of that number, as many as 129 transgender people each year would seek transition-related care, at a cost as high as $8.4 million annually.
Perry said, “If the cost isn’t cost prohibitive, then why block?”
Stazione, is now Executive Director of Defenders of Freedom, a North Texas nonprofit that helps injured veterans receive care and find jobs.
He says he worries money spent on transition-related care will take away from injured veterans who rely on the VA to provide essential care. “We’re hunting down funding to help these people when the government is basically just leaving them by the wayside.”