LADSON, SC (WCSC) - The Pentagon announced Thursday that transgender people will be allowed to serve openly in the U.S. military, ending one of the last bans on service in the armed forces.
Retired Master Sergeant Cameron Brady said this decision will change so many lives.
"Overwhelming joy and happiness, when I heard," Brady said. "I actually cried a little."
She said this because she didn't have the ability to present as female in her 20 years in the U.S. Air Force.
"I had to hide who I was," Brady said. "I was scared, I was scared to death. At any point I could have been arrested and thrown in jail for just being who I am."
Brady decided the desire to serve her country was more important than her happiness.
So, Brady lived as male, hiding a secret that she wanted, more than anything, to make public.
"Basically, I couldn't be myself," Brady. "I had to be someone else."
She recalled times when she debated how she could change her life and be true to herself.
"My goal was to get a degree and then go what was called stealth, basically fall of the face of the earth and live my life as a woman and not contact my family ever again," Brady said.
Instead, Brady hid the secret and waited.
Today, presenting as woman, she's happy.
Her family knows.
Her wife of 9 years, who recently passed away, supported her transition.
But, all the while, she's wished things weren't so hard, admitting emotional hurdles.
"Suicide is already high in the military and high among transgender people," Brady said.
But, she said, the recent announcement shows her struggle was worth it.
"We just want the same rights as everyone else, we don't want special rights," Brady said.
Brady said she wishes she could go back in time and encourage her younger self.
"I would say it gets better, it gets a lot better," Brady said.
This announcement, she said, is a clear indication that it's getting better, sending praise to those responsible.
"Thank you, just thank you very much," Brady said.