Specialist John Ackley served in the 34th Infantry Division (the Red Bulls) in Iraq in 2009. Ackley recently inquired about re-enlistment in the National Guard. The Guard was all happy about it until they discovered Ackley has legally changed her name to Ashley and has transitioned to a woman.
A history of, or current manifestations of…transsexual, gender identity disorder to include major abnormalities or defects of genitalia such as change of sex or a current attempt to change sex…or dysfunctional residuals from surgical correction of these conditions render an individual administratively unfit.
–Lt. Col. Kevin Olson, Spokesman for the Minnesota National Guard
That response is far different than the response Ackley got from her superiors when she told them at the end of her tour of service that she was wanting to begin transition.
I figured there would be boards and I would have to talk to people all the way up the chain of command.
But no, they were fine with it.
Ackley is currently on the Army list of inactive ready reserves and could be recalled to service in a dire emergency.
I thought it was funny, and almost ironic. This didn’t just prop up, this gender identity disorder has been an issue my entire life. But I manage to, with this ‘disorder,’ serve for six years and have a successful tour in Iraq.
Ackley acknowledges the logistical problems that might preclude pre-operative transpeople to serve, but she has begun the fight to allow post-surgery individuals to serve in the military.
We are not broken. I have been reached out to by many, many prior service members who are now going through this transition, who have had very distinguished careers. I believe we are just as capable as any other person supporting our country.
Our position is that the military should re-examine the policy, the medical regulations, so as to allow open service for transgender people.
–Vincent Paolo Villano, National Center for Transgender Equality
When asked why she wanted to go through this by a local news organization, Ashley responded, “I just kind of want to be me.”
Ashley was also interviewed on CNN.