Activists and local lawmakers gathered outside City Hall Park Saturday to rally in protest of the Trump Administration’s ban on transgender people from openly serving in the military.
Shawn Skelly was one of the people who attended the event.
Skelly is a retired naval officer. She served for 20 years before retiring early in 2006 to complete her transition.
“The navy and military missed out on the full breadth of my experience,” said Skelly while attending the rally. “I would have been eligible to serve for 25 plus years and I served only 20.”
The ban, which went into effect Friday after years of legal challenges, reverses an Obama era policy that allowed transgender service members to serve openly.
Now, new military recruits cannot be openly Trans and will not be permitted to transition.
It’s not known exactly how many transgender troops are currently serving, but some estimates put the figure as high as 12,000 to 15,000.
For service members who had not previously come out as Trans, they could face discharge if they do so now.
“It was disheartening to know that we’ve lost progress, but I think so many of us, particularly those of us who are in the military or are veterans, it gives us renewed strength to fight this fight," said Sue Fulton, an Army veteran.
“Our voices do matter. Trans service members, their contributions, do matter. They’re a part of this country, they’re patriots as well as everyone else and that their service, just because they are Trans, isn’t diminished,” said Jennifer Long, another Army veteran.
President Trump has said transgender troops cause "tremendous medical cost and disruption" to the military.
Council Member Eric Ulrich is calling the ban a national disgrace.
“I think what we are losing is respect in this country and around the world,” said Ulrich. “The fact that we would discriminate in our policies against Trans individuals, what message does that send to the rest of the world?”
Council Member Eric Ulrich will introduce a resolution condemning the ban. He says New Yorkers can’t tolerate any policy that discriminates against members of the armed services.