Born in raised in Hampton, Va , I have served in the Air Force since 2015 working in the field of Air Transportation (2T2). Port Dawgs! I enjoy being outdoors, fishing, camping, enjoying a nice bonfire, and hanging with my two dogs, Toby and Guinness. I am currently in school finishing up my bachelors in Marketing. Hitting the gym is something I do to take the stress out of the day, and remain somewhat in shape. I am also a volunteer for the Oklahoma City Zoo and enjoy being around the animals and meeting people from all over.
When I finally decided to pull the trigger and join the Air Force, I was 23 and for some reason, I could only decide to commit to the Reserves at that time, even though I dreamed of traveling and getting out of my hometown. I quickly got deployed to Al Udeid AB, Qatar, early in 2017, after being with my reserve unit in Dover for just a year. It was while I was over there that it really set in for me, and I wanted more out of my career. I wanted more out of serving. So, I pursued Active Duty. People told me time and time again that it was “impossible,” and I went through a slew of recruiters until I finally found one that would help me make the switch.
I got my first Active Duty orders to Tinker AFB, Oklahoma, and EAD (Extended Active Duty) in June 2018. It was at Tinker AFB that I realized that I didn’t have to hide who I was anymore. There were no pressures around from friends or family that had known me my whole life. Not to say that I haven’t had support because I have had an enormous amount, but I was always afraid of being judged and looked down on.
Coming out at Tinker had its challenges, especially since one of my coworkers openly talked about how there “are only two genders”, and “I don’t care if a woman pretends to be man, I would never address her as one.” These statements were made within the first few weeks of me being assigned to my duty section but months later I did not let it stop me from seeking to transition, and I’m so grateful that I did.
Fast-forward two years later, and about a year since I came out to my unit (via PowerPoint – people like visuals!), that same coworker respects my pronouns and addresses me properly. In fact, I have had many people tell me that I have changed their views and open their minds to be more accepting. Hearing that I have made a positive impact on those around me to love greater and judge less, really makes going through this a little easier. It is good to be seen for the person that I am, and not just by a label of being “different” than others.
My goal ultimately is to commission and become an officer, preferably a Public Affairs officer but if that doesn’t work out and I stay enlisted, I would love to become a First Sergeant one day. Helping others is something I am passionate about and I think the Air Force needs more leaders who are empathetic and want to make a difference. If I can continue to serve and help others serve, that’s what I want to do.
Something that I want people to know about transgender members in the military is that we are not a burden. There are many people in the Air Force that are on medical codes, or have different needs to accommodate, we aren’t any different than anyone else. We want to deploy, we want to do our jobs like anybody else and hopefully one day, we won’t be so restricted just for being ourselves. When it boils down to it, we accepted our responsibility to potentially take a bullet for the freedom of others, and in a moment where that is a possibility, no one should care if we are transgender or not. We deserve the same respect as anyone else.