Transgender advocate, veteran reacts to overturn of transgender military ban

This Week in Pennsylvania

HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) — President Joe Biden has overturned President Donald Trump’s ban on transgender Americans serving in the military.

“Some of us just have different packaging than others, but the inside is what counts,” said Joanne Carroll, executive director of Trans Advocacy Pennsylvania.

Inside Joanne Carroll is a determined woman. For 20 years, she served in the Air Force, retiring as a master sergeant.

If she was 18 again, she’d do it all over and enlist.

“I enjoy the time I was in the service. I really did. I enjoyed the job that I had. I did some great work, but I would have done even better work,” Carroll said.

That’s because she served as male, her birth-assigned sex. To her, the ban was personal.

“They tried to paint the picture that it was going to be incredibly expensive for the military to provide hormones and other treatment. The bill for Viagra for God’s sake is through the roof. It’s like 400 million a year,” Carroll said.

Biden’s secretary of defense, Lloyd Austin, is also on board.

“If you’re fit, and you’re qualified to serve and you can maintain the standards, you should be allowed to serve, and you can expect that I will support that throughout,” he said.

Carroll said transgender people are denied opportunities all too often. She said about 40-percent are unemployed or under-employed.

“If you’re white and transgender, the rate of unemployment is 18-20 percent. If you’re black and transgender it’s probably closer to 25-30,” Carroll said.

With enlisting back on the table, she sees an open door.

“Coming out with those references and that experience, they can go any place to the community at large and have an opportunity that they wouldn’t have any other way,” Carroll said.

The executive order also calls for a full investigation into military members who were involuntarily discharged for being transgender, correcting any dishonorable discharged status to honorable.

The secretaries of defense and homeland security will present their findings to the administration in 60 days.

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