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'It's a breath of fresh air.' Transgender veteran hopeful after lifting of military ban

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Posted at 7:05 AM, Jan 27, 2021
and last updated 2021-01-27 07:05:15-05

ALLEGAN, Mich. — President Joe Biden signed an executive order this week, lifting a transgender military ban and allowing transgender men and women to enlist and serve openly in the United States military.

For local Vietnam veteran Tessa Pierce Thomas, it was as a day that brought some much-needed relief.

“I don't like to hide, and I’m proud of what I’ve done. I joined the Air Force in October 1968, and I would do it again, and every one of us would do it again, but you can't do it in hiding,” Thomas said.

“And that's what I was doing,” she added.

FOX 17 first caught up with her in 2017, when former President Donald Trump announced he would ban transgender people from serving in the military.

At the time she was a Trump supporter.

“He really slapped the trans community and the LGBT community in the face, and a good portion of America in the face,” she said.

Now years later, with the ban now lifted, she’s hopeful more trans people like her will be able to serve with pride.

"It would have been a lot easier for me and a lot easier for a lot of other individuals if we can serve openly. I said before you're never alone in the military, and sometimes you have to cry, and that’s hard because you have to be alone,” she explained.

While this is a welcome step to feeling less “alone,” Tessa says more still needs to be done.

“It's a relief now, but we need to see this relief put into some fashion of law that can't be taken down again by another executive action, because that's what it's been so far,” Tessa said.

“The whole country needs more than that. We all have rights, but it's the protection of those rights that that we need,” she added.

Video Credit: Burly Mermaid