Lowcountry transgender vet speaks out on Defense Department's decision on enlistment

CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - A Lowcountry transgender veteran is speaking out in support of the Defense Department's decision to allow transgender people in the military despite President Donald Trumps effort to ban them.

On Monday, the Pentagon announced it will allow transgender people to enlist in the military beginning New Year's Day.

Transgender veteran Josie Thomas joined the U.S. Air Force in 2008 for multiple reasons.

"I wanted to explore the world," Thomas said."I wanted to do something different and also at the same point I had feeling that I wasn't quite myself. So I wanted to kick any kind of feminine feeling by joining something really masculine."

It was during the end of her time in the military she started to make the transition.

The first time she wore a female military uniform was on her last day of work before medically retiring in 2016 after being diagnosed with Leukemia.

"What I thought about that was wow the perfect time to get out," Thomas said.

That was Josie's reaction to President Donald Trump's tweets from July expressing his effort to to ban transgender people from the military.

Trump tweeted that medical costs would be a burden. A 2016 study by Rand Corporation found the cost would have minimal impact.

Fast forward to Monday, the Defense Department is going in a different direction by accepting transgender people.

"The thing is it shouldn't matter at the end of the day," Thomas said."It's a body there that's on your side to make sure you get home alive. Why do you care what they look like? Why do you care what's in their pants? Why do you care what's under their shirt?"

Transgender recruits will have to pass a set of physical, medical and mental conditions to join the armed forces.

They will also have to be clinically stable in their preferred sex for 18 months, a timeline Thomas supports.

"We're all people," Thomas said."It doesn't matter who you are. We're just people doing our thing, taking care of our family our kids. Whatever we need to take care of, let's stop harassing each other."

Two federal courts have ruled against the transgender ban. The new policy reflects growing legal pressure on the matter.

The federal government would have to cross difficult legal hurdles to enforce a ban like this.

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