“The navy was something I always wanted to do, ever since I saw the Blue Angels as a little kid,” Chief Petty Officer Sarah Sardinha tells me. “I knew I wanted to work on fighter jets.”
What she didn’t know when she joined the Navy 16 years ago was what it meant to be trans. She was aware of a discomfort she felt around her gender, but it wasn’t until three years ago that she began to publicly come out as a trans woman.
“I was terrified,” she says. At one point, a colleague casually said that they’d like to put trans people in front of a truck and run them all over.
“That was my deciding factor in coming out,” Sardinha recalls. “People having negative opinions when they don’t even know trans people.” The person who’d joked about running trans people over later approached her in tears to apologize. Now they’re friends — on Facebook, at any rate.
“When people find out that they know and rely on trans people on a daily basis, they realize we’re just people,” Sardinha says.
Trump administration officials continue to insist that America’s military cannot withstand the presence of trans individuals. But those claims contradict the first-hand experience of professionals like Sardinha, repeated court rulings, and newly-published research in the Journal of Health Affairs, which found that the mental and physical health of transgender veterans is virtually identical to that of cisgender veterans.
Intriguingly, the new study also indicates that trans veterans have better health than cisgender civilians, suggesting that trans veterans may “represent a particularly resilient subset of transgender people."
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