Yes, I served. I gave four years to the USAF, spending my whole hitch with 314 Combat Support Group at Little Rock AFB. I enlisted as a cook, even though I qualified for ever job except accountant. I had started life wanting to be a chef, but not having the funds, I couldn’t go to Johnson and Wales or the Culinary Institute at Hyde Park as my instructor in high school had done.
I was a bypass specialist. This means I took a test in Basic Training to show my proficiency in my job allowing me to bypass tech school. I went straight to my duty assignment. In short order, I found myself as an Airman First Class in charge of a team at night running the dining hall. After getting a perfect score on the range two years in a row, I found myself also assigned to the mobility team. Our job was to fly in before everyone else and clear the area for tent city. My team and I would do most every deployment for war games. I was well-respected by all and soon found myself moved up on the list to be flight roster number one. That meant that every deployment, I would be the first on the plane. While I was fortunate to have served in what might be the only peacetime we have known, that small period at the end of Viet Nam but before Iran or Granada. Though, I was on a plane heading to Iran when the scrubbed us and said Delta Force was going in.
I studied and worked hard. I made Senior Airman below the zone. In other words, I was awarded Senior Airman rank, six months earlier than I was due. This also meant that I made Sergeant before I got out. There were some that thought I should have stayed in and I would have made Staff Sergeant shortly after reenlisting. Unfortunately, my Irish got involved there as I found that my CO had squashed my orders to England. I didn’t want to stay in Arkansas for another four so I got out.
Why am I telling you this? Today, our President, the supposed great leader of our country said that people like me, transgender, could no longer serve. This is not just a disservice to transgender people, but to the service itself.
Transgender people are known to excel at what they do. They feel they have to overcompensate. We have to be better than the best. Just think of Caitlyn Jenner. She was a gold medal decathlete as Bruce. Kristen Bell was just in the Navy, she was part of the heroic Seal Team Six. As my friend Jenny Robinson put it, “There is an inordinate proportion of trans who enlist in the armed forces to the general population. We enlist to prove our self worth, to overcome the self-loathing instilled since childhood by families, friends, schools, and churches.”
I wrote a six part series, Not A Life Choice. I explained all about transgender people. In one segment, I wrote about the science behind it. I came out very publicly, so that I could educate people. I wanted to put a face, a known face to my community. The suicide rate in our community is over 40%. I wanted to do my part to educate and hopefully reduce that number.
I, like many transgender people, went the extra mile. In High School, I graduated High Honors. I won the Rotarian Award for Outstanding Food Service Student. I also won Best Actor for Newport County CYO two years running. I strove to excel at all I did as I felt I had to be better than the best. It did help having a somewhat high IQ of 145. As times changed I adapted to the changing times. In time, I had to reinvent myself once again. I ended up in a job retraining program called JPTA that was later killed by Reagan. I learned how to program computers. I was always top in my class for programming and at one point when an instructor took another job, he told the school that I should teach the class. At one point, I took the challenge to network some computers together. I managed to get a Digital VAX and a Data General to talk together using a fairly new protocol TCP/IP. Soon I had the whole office running on it and everyone had email on their desktop. My boss and I got called to Atlanta to the CIOs office where we were told to slow down that we were where the company wanted to be in five years. He told us that we were a PT Boat compared to their battleship. He did admire all that we had accomplished. In that move, I went from programming to ops and networking.
Times change and I continued to learn and adapt. In time I was traded to a vendor and I continued to learn. I became a Unix Guru working with SCO. I heard about a new operating system called Linux and my boss sent me down to get certified. I was supposed to be a SCO ACE but ended up getting my RHCE and once again, at the top of my class. I continued to evolve my skill set. I managed disk arrays and networking equipment. I continued to learn and improve my knowledge of Linux. I became versed in a number of different flavors. Once again, adapting and overcoming. With Data Centers being consolidated and my own two being closed, I quickly learned cloud computing. Adapt, overcome.
I also took up writing. I have dabbled at it over the years and even took a course in college. My blog caught the attention of some people and I was invite to write a weekly column and then a news segment. I even won a Golden Note for online writing. I continued to write a blog and a weekly column and a news segment for a while. I eventually got frustrated at the direction the world was going and just felt my writing had zero impact. I took some time off, but came back to it. I am not back with the online magazine, but my publisher has invited me to come back, as Emma.
I had also became a Mason. I had tried to come out back in the 90s and was beaten back. I felt I wasn’t going to be allowed to be a woman, so I would be the best man I could. As is my custom, I threw myself into it. I won the Rookie Award in my first year. I started a fund raiser that is still running today. I may not be able to be a Mason anymore but they asked me to come back and do this. I wasn’t just a Mason but got involved with York Rite. I progressed quickly. Soon I was named the District Ambassador, Ambassador of my lodge, I made High Priest in Chapter, Deputy Master in Council, and Captain General in Commandery (Knights Templar). I had been asked to be Eminent Commander in Commandery but declined because I knew I would soon have to demit. I was also lead instructor for the district, teaching new Masons all about the Craft. I think that was the hardest thing I had to do was to walk away from all of that. Unfortunately, a woman cannot be a Mason. Though, Eastern Star was calling when they learned I had to step away.
I have been with my company for fifteen years. Last year, I went to them and told them I was transgender and wanted to transition. Did my boss act like Trump and throw me out of the company? No, quite the opposite. He asked how he could help. My company has shown me nothing but respect. I have the respect of the team I work with as well as many of my peers in the company. This is beyond empowering. I no longer have that burden of having to live an untrue life. I am me and I can focus more of my attention on problem solving and making things work better. That is what happens when you accept a transgender employee and allow them just to be.
Today’s announcement by Trump that transgender people will no longer be allowed to serve is beyond an affront. He is removing valuable people from the ranks. Why? Just to promote ignorance and hatred? Wait, right, this is Trump’s America, it is built on ignorance and hatred.
My prayers go out to all the transgender service people. I thank you for your service. I pray that you will adapt and overcome this ignorant moron that was elected President.
I have heard that this is all a diversion to take attention away from the investigation into this corrupt administration. Trump has stated that investigating his families finances is a line not to cross. I have a question? How is this man who evaded the draft, first with college deferments and when that ran out, medical. He is a bully and coward. When will Americans catch on?
Transgender people are not the enemy. Get to know them. It may benefit you. For all you corporations, open your arms to the transgender people that Trump has rejected, you want to talk about loyalty. I am at fifteen years with my company and have no desire to move on because of that acceptance. In return, I give my all to the company. A tip I might give to any vet being kicked out for being themselves, get ahold of a copy of HRC’s Corporate Equality Index and look at the companies that scored 100. Those are the companies with acceptance policies. My heart goes out to you. This administration is destroying the country. We will lose more quality people. Heck, France invited our engineers and scientists to come and live and work there since America doesn’t believe in science and education anymore.
I don’t know what the future holds. If things continue as they are, I could become an outlaw for just being me. I will continue to try to educate and make people aware. I was given the gift of the word, and I will use that. I pray that it reaches someone.
As always, my heart to your heart, one heart, one spirit.
“Lady” Emma Morgaine Croft