Serving in secret: Being transgender in the US military

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Al Jazeera America
By Brittany Tom
July 7, 2015

U.S. Army Maj. Jamie Henry has served in the military for more than a decade, working as a doctor at the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Maryland. But from the moment she joined the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps at 17 years old, she had no choice but to lie about who she really was.

“I’ve been transgender my whole life,” she said.

Henry, 32, was born biologically male and named James but said she has always felt female. She knew revealing this secret to anyone in the military could mean losing the job she loves. “For the longest time, it was very difficult, very painful — much of it inner turmoil that I couldn’t express with my colleagues,” she said.

Although “don’t ask, don’t tell,” which barred openly gay and lesbian people from serving in the military, was repealed in 2010, transgender individuals must still serve in silence. The Department of Defense’s medical guidelines state that anyone with what it terms “psychosexual conditions” such as “transsexualism” and “transvestism” is disqualified from service.

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