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‘I felt like I was kicked in the gut’: Local transgender veteran reacts to military ban

JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD, Wash. — Military veterans in the transgender community say they feel betrayed after President Trump’s plan to ban all transgender people from serving in the military.

“When I woke up this morning I felt like I was kicked in the gut,” Erika Laurentz said.

When the U.S. allowed transgender people to serve openly in the military last year, Laurentz said it made her feel like the country recognized her.

“I felt proud of my service and I felt proud that my transgender friends were able to serve,” Laurentz said.

Laurentz served in the Vietnam War and during her time in active duty she says she had no choice but to keep her identity a secret.

“The penalty for being out was so high,” Laurentz said.

Laurentz said she faced jail time or being discharged if anyone found out, but she chose to serve.

“I believed a country that allowed me to protest deserved my allegiance,” Laurentz said.

Now with Trump’s plan to reinstate the ban, Laurentz said it opens up a wound that’s been painful all of her life.

“The feeling that I never belonged to this country, I hoped for a day when I would; I still don’t,” Laurentz said.

Laurentz said the news is a huge blow to her and other transgender people, especially those in active duty on bases like JBLM.

JBML released this statement on the matter:

“The U.S. Army, U.S. Air Force and Joint Base Lewis-McChord implements the personnel policies issued by the Department of Defense, the Departments of the Army and Air Force and our higher headquarters. We have not received any changes in personnel policy about transgender military personnel. We would refer all questions about the President's statements to the White House.”