OMAHA, Neb. — The Supreme Court allowed President Donald Trump’s executive order banning transgender military members to take effect, while lawyers fight it in the lower courts.
The first transgender airman at Offutt Air Force Base admits this could be a roadblock but said transgender service members will fight back by serving their country.
“We are going to keep showing up for work, keep doing an awesome job, keep achieving at the highest levels, continue going on deployments and do it until we literally can’t do it,” Staff Sgt. Ashleigh Buch said.
Buch, 34, helped pave the way for other transgender military members.
“I don’t want them to go through what I went through,” Buch said.
Buch said she joined the Air Force as a man 10 years ago to try to suppress her gender identity.
“Quickly, it had the opposite effect, where it magnified to just these feelings of, I wasn’t able to be who I was,” Buch said.
Since the military didn’t have a policy at that time, Buch feared she would be kicked out if superiors caught on to her double life.
She showed up to work as a man, but once she left base, she lived her life as a woman. Wigs covered her short military haircut and heels replaced military boots.
“As soon as I left the base for the day, that’s when it would be back to Ashleigh mode, instead of trying to present as a man, who everyone saw me as. That’s not who I was, though, ” Buch said.
Buch started the transition to becoming a woman with hormone therapy while still working as a man. But in 2016, the military created a policy allowing transgenders to serve their country.
Her squadron commander told her to show up the next day as Ashleigh.
“As soon as I was able to show up and be myself, my productivity, my performance skyrocketed once I was able to be myself,” Buch said. “No longer do I have to hide myself from my leadership.”
Buch is worried for transgender people who want to join the military but haven’t been able to do so.
“The news (of the Supreme Court’s decision )was really rough but the good news is we are still fighting and hopefully this is just a roadblock to our continuing acceptance in the military,” Buch said.
Buch mentors at least six other transgender airmen stationed at Offutt.