I did a brief stint in the Coast Guard Reserve and received an honorable discharge for my service. I am a transgender man, and I’m devastated that openly transgender people are no longer allowed to serve.

This policy is a massive step backward. It is by serving side by side that barriers break down. Placing your life in the hands of another will challenge your deepest prejudice. It is impossible to hate someone who saved your life or died in your place. It is why people of color and women had to serve.

In order to be equal, one must demonstrate one’s willingness to die for the protections and freedoms of this country. To bar any groups from doing that is to force a vulnerable and dependent status on us and relegate us to a child’s status. That will mean we are never going to be equal. It is imperative that transgender people serve in our military and every facet of life.

Matthew Francis


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