Re­ac­tion: Trans­gen­der sol­diers in Colorado worry about “a con­cern­ing turn of events.”

The Denver Post - - FRONT PAGE - By Jen­nifer Brown

“Did I just get fired … via tweet?” Staff Sgt. Pa­tri­cia King asked on her Face­book page Wed­nes­day shortly af­ter Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump used Twit­ter to an­nounce that trans­gen­der peo­ple can no longer serve in the mil­i­tary.

“This is a con­cern­ing turn of events,” said King, who lived for 16 years as a male sol­dier be­fore tran­si­tion­ing to fe­male while sta­tioned at Fort Car­son, south of Colorado Springs, in 2015. “Please keep trans ser­vice mem­bers in your prayers and call your rep­re­sen­ta­tives.”

King, who was fea­tured in The Den­ver Post’s 2015 “A Sol­dier’s Story,” was among 300 trans­gen­der sol­diers who were part of a na­tion­wide sup­port group for LGBT ser­vice mem­bers, in­clud­ing five near Fort Car­son. She has done three tours in Afghanistan and is now sta­tioned in Washington state.

An­other trans­gen­der ser­vice mem­ber with Colorado con­nec­tions, Air Force Staff Sgt. Lo­gan Ire­land, said he would “love for my pres­i­dent to meet me so I can tell him about the 15,500 hon­or­ably serv­ing trans- gen­der mil­i­tary mem­bers that are fight­ing right now for their lib­er­ties and for our coun­try.”

Ire­land tran­si­tioned in 2012 to live as a man af­ter join­ing the mil­i­tary two years ear­lier and is now sta­tioned at Peter­son Air Force Base in Colorado Springs. He re­ceived an of­fi­cial “ex­cep­tion of pol­icy” af­ter he tran­si­tioned that al­lowed him to ad­here to male stan­dards of dress, de­spite that the Air Force listed him as fe­male.

“For the Pres­i­dent to deny an able-bod­ied, fully qual­i­fied per­son the in­her­ent right to raise their right hand and serve their coun­try, po­ten­tially giv­ing their own life for our free­doms, is do­ing this coun­try an in­jus­tice,” he said via email Wed­nes­day from Texas, where he is train­ing at Camp Bullis.

Ire­land, who served in Afghanistan, met Pres­i­dent Barack Obama three years ago when he was in­vited to an LGBT mil­i­tary re­cep­tion at the White House. He was al­lowed to wear male-is­sue “dress blues.”

Ire­land’s wife, Laila Vil­lanueva, is a trans­gen­der wo­man who tran­si­tioned while serv­ing 12 years in the Army, leav­ing in 2015 as a cor­po­ral and com­bat medic.

“Trans peo­ple have been serv­ing for decades upon decades,” said Vil­lanueva, who now speaks to uni­ver­si­ties, busi­nesses and mil­i­tary in­stal­la­tions about di­ver­sity and the mil­i­tary’s pol­icy al­low­ing trans peo­ple to serve openly. “The new pol­icy is work­ing. It re­ally is go­ing smoothly.”

Joe Amon, Den­ver Post file

Staff Sgt. Pa­tri­cia King lived for 16 years as a male sol­dier be­fore tran­si­tion­ing to fe­male while sta­tioned at Fort Car­son in 2015.

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