Transgender Army staff sergeant with Utah ties reflects on ban

Local News

SAN ANTONIO (ABC4 News) – A transgender staff sergeant in the Army with ties to Utah reflected Wednesday on the U.S. Supreme Court’s upholding of President Trump’s military ban on transgender persons. 

Freyja Eccles, 39, is in the middle of transitioning from her assigned male gender to female. Based in San Antonio, Eccles is a staff sergeant in a unit comprised of Army, Navy and Air Force personnel. 

She described the fear she felt when President Donald Trump tweeted in 2017 that transgender persons would no longer be allowed to serve. Still, military attorneys assured her that since no ban was in place back then, she could continue the process of transitioning without consequence. Eccles said she’s confident she may be grandfathered into the Obama administration policy if Trump’s policy becomes permanent. 

She said the Supreme Court’s decision Tuesday to uphold Trump’s ban while the lower courts decide on cases stemming from the decision alarmed her, and she feared for her friends in the military who have not been able to come out. She expressed fear the military ban would silence them. 

“The individuals who have not come forward who have not felt comfortable enough to open up and to share their authentic self with the world…it’s really scary because now we don’t know if they can…or if they can’t because now we are in this complete limbo,” said Eccles.

Eccles, who spent high school and a little bit of college in Utah, said she has received mostly support from her commanding officers and her comrades in her decision to transition. Eccles is undergoing hormone replacement therapy (HRT) and should be finished transitioning in nearly 18 months. 

Surgeries will likely be necessary, she said. For now, she said, military insurance and funds set aside for her transition are covering the cost. 

Roughly 9,000 service members identify as gender non-conforming. 

Copyright 2019 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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Glen Mills

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For this Beetdigger and Ute it's an honor to be doing what he loves in his home state! Glen is an award winning journalist, who joined the ABC4 Utah team in June, 2013. You can catch him anchoring ABC4 Utah News at 4 Monday through Friday. He also serves as our Chief Political Correspondent, keeping you up to date on issues that impact your life at the city, state and national level. His political reports run throughout the week, and he hosts Utah's only statewide political talk show, Inside Utah Politics Sunday mornings at 8. The Utah Headliners Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists recognized Glen as the best government and military television reporter in the state. Read More...

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