Patricia King, a retired Army staff sergeant, Blake Dremann, President of SPART*A, and moderator Sue Fulton, Vice Chair of the U.S. Military Board of Visitors, sat down for a panel at OutNEXT to discuss the state of transgender life and policy in the United States military.
“The biggest issue that we had, and I think many others might echo this, wasn’t with the service members or my peers: it was because we didn’t have clearly defined policy,” said Patricia King, highlighting the ways that policy, and not culture, create the greatest barriers for transgender soldiers. “There were a lot of people that wanted to support me personally, but professionally wouldn’t have been able to because the rule book said they couldn’t.”
“I lasted three days at the Pentagon without having to out myself, versus four years on a submarine when nobody ever asked a question,” said Blake Dremann, sharing the ways trans life in the field can be different from trans life inside the administrative side of the military.
Dremann also spoke the ways that his transition taught him about the differences between how female and male soldiers are treated. “I have absolutely gained privilege going from a white female to a white male. People listen to me more. I absolutely gained privilege.”
Patricia King added that including trans people in the military isn’t just a moral issue, but one of effectiveness. “Diverse teams just work better. They come up with more creative solutions, and they’re going to be the team that ends up winning, whether it be on the battlefield or in the boardroom.”