Shane Ortega was the first uniformed service member to come out publicly as transgender while actively serving in the US Military.
There were two African Americans and five Jews that went to my High School. P.S. I was one of those five Jews. I grew up in Dalton, PA, a small town outside of Scranton. It was “Varsity Blues” to a T where football ruled the town. Throughout High School I would get called a “homo” while I made fun of others by calling them a “fag.”
My peers and teachers didn’t educate me, I was never exposed to a homosexual, and I didn’t feel comfortable exploring my own sexuality until college. In fact, the first openly gay person I met was on my first day of my freshman year at The Boston Conservatory.
I have to admit, I had never been exposed to a Transgender person until I moved to the Big Apple. Eight years after living in NYC, I met Giselle Byrd, an assistant to my talent manager, Jeremy Katz.
Yes, that’s right. I was thirty years old. Did I mention I live in NEW YORK CITY, the Melting Pot of the WORLD?!?
Giselle is FLAWLESS and lives her truth on the daily. It’s one thing to come out as gay, bisexual, or lesbian. Not everyone “gets it” or “agrees.” However, can you imagine knowing your whole life that you are not the gender you were assigned at birth, and one day coming to terms with it?
It was pretty damn hard being picked on constantly for being gay; but the looks, ridicule, and bullying one is subjected to for being transgender are on a completely different level. I will never know what that feeling is like, but I can imagine.
I don’t necessarily blame people who don’t “understand” the Trans community, as they may not have been exposed to it. It’s up to the allies of the LGBTQ people to step it up, listen, educate, and be AWARE!
It is incredibly brave for a person to live their truth out loud.
On a related note, it is also incredibly HEROIC to volunteer to fight for the USA while putting your life on the line in the Military. I know I would be a hot ass mess if I had to fight in the Military. Let’s be real; if a human passes all of the mental and physical requirements to fight for our homeland who gives a flying f*ck what gender that person identifies as?
On July 26, President Trump stated via Twitter “The US Government will not accept or allow Transgender individuals to serve in ANY capacity in the US Military.”
A month ago I was fortunate enough to be hosted by the creator of the #iLoveGay network, Matt Skallerud, and the tourism board of Laguna Beach for their PRIDE festivities, where I got to meet Shane Ortega. Shane was the first Female to Male Trans person I’d ever met (although he says I have probably met a ton and just not realized it).
I had so many questions, as I’m sure many people do. I sat down with Shane on a rock in Laguna Beach to talk about his life.
Shane told me that he was brought up Indigenous, which is Native American. In Shane’s family’s culture, the concept of gender is more fluid; meaning it’s not only THIS or THAT. When people ask the question, “When did you know you were Trans,” Shane says he’s always been this person. He grew up in a culture where there were no boxes.
His real struggle began when he joined the Military—but Shane bravely stood up against transphobia, and his actions ultimately helped reverse the legislative policy barring Transgender people in the Military.
I recently asked Shane about his thoughts on Trump’s tweets promising to ban trans people from serving in the military.
“I feel like it shows [Trump’s] incompetence as a commander because you don’t use social media to state policy,” Shane says. “It shows his lack of genuine appreciation for military service members. It also shows his ability to manipulate the population when it serves him and his agenda; such as his promise to protect the LGBT community.”
“While on duty the ability to take any medication is dependent on the person. If someone has diabetes they take their diabetes medication with them. If someone is taking hormone pills they carry their medication on them. There is always a combat medic on the field.”
“In order to officially join the military you have to not only meet the requirements of an average citizen, but you have to meet the passport standard. That means your gender marker and name change documents have to be completed before you join. You have to have an additional check-in point where you have to be stabilized in your transition for a period of 18 monitored months by an MD to serve in the Military.”
“To learn more go to www.Outserve.org but the real work that needs to be done is to call your congressmen and senators, make your voice heard, engage in organized protests, and stand up for your fellow American Citizens. I hope for the best but prepare for the worst.”
FACT Shane Ortega served as a US Marine and in the US Army
FACT While actively serving in the Military, Shane Ortega became the first uniformed service member to come out publicly as transgender.
FACT Shane Ortega helped reverse the legislative policy barring Transgender people in the Military.
FACT That policy Passed in JUNE 2016.
FACT Shane Ortega was retired 1 month after President Obama lifted the ban on Transgender people serving openly in the Military. He chose to leave the Military and went on to advocate and fight for the rights of the transgender community throughout the country.
FACT Shane Ortega is a HERO
It is time to STAY WOKE. The fighting has just begun.