Valley transgender advocates weigh in on new military service ban

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There may be thousands of transgender service members currently on active duty. In just three tweets, the President has put the future of their service in question. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5) There may be thousands of transgender service members currently on active duty. In just three tweets, the President has put the future of their service in question. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
"I imagine it's devastating. People who serve identify at a personal level so strongly with their military service. It's not just a job they do, it's a very strong part of their sense of self," said Erica Keppler. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5) "I imagine it's devastating. People who serve identify at a personal level so strongly with their military service. It's not just a job they do, it's a very strong part of their sense of self," said Erica Keppler. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) -

There may be thousands of transgender service members currently on active duty. In just three tweets, the president has put the future of their service in question.

Openly transgender people have only been allowed to serve in the military for a short period of time. The Obama Administration lifted a long-time ban just 13 months ago.

Miranda Horton served in the Navy for two years starting in 1993 during the time of "don’t ask, don’t tell."

She says she too hid her identity and that weighed heavy on her mind.

“When I was in, I felt a tremendous pressure to keep things hidden. I knew that if I didn't, I would risk being expelled from the military or violence. And so what I think it does is create an undue physiological burden on the service members," said Horton.

She wishes that hadn't been the case.

"If you're open, you don't have that internal psychological war going on all the time. You're able to give yourself fully to the task that you're doing," said Horton. 

As an advocate and a trans woman herself, Erica Keppler with Arizona Trans Alliance says she has a good idea on what this announcement means.

"I imagine it's devastating. People who serve identify at a personal level so strongly with their military service. It's not just a job they do, it's a very strong part of their sense of self," said Keppler.

President Trump cited "tremendous medical costs and disruption" for his decision.

It's estimated there are more than 135,000 transgender veterans in the United States today.

“Transgendered people are as capable of any other. We are perfectly reasonable. We are harmless individuals. We can certainly be dedicated and hardworking, and I submit being what we have to go through, we're the bravest people on earth,” said Keppler. 

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Lauren ReimerLauren Reimer joined the 3TV/CBS 5 family in June 2016. She is originally from Racine, WI but is no stranger to our heat.

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Lauren Reimer

She previously worked for KVOA in Tucson, covering topics that matter to Arizonans including the monsoon, wildfires and border issues. During the child migrant crisis of 2014, Reimer was one of only a handful of journalists given access to the U.S. Customs and Border Protection detention facility in Nogales, where hundreds of unaccompanied children were being held after crossing into the U.S. from Central America. Before that, Reimer worked at WREX in Rockford, IL. Lauren is a graduate of the University of Wisconsin - Milwaukee and still visits home often. When not chasing news stories, Reimer loves to explore, enjoying everything from trying new adventurous foods to visiting state and national parks or local places of historical significance.

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