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Government & Politics

Clovis Veteran Helen James Says Military Transgender Ban Means 'Going Backwards'

Laura Tsutsui
Valley Public Radio
Helen James shows a photo of a bronze cast of her hand holding her dog tags from when she seved in the Air Force. James upgraded her discharge status to "honorable" last year.

Last week, the Supreme Court took a step toward allowing President Donald Trump to ban transgender troops from serving in the military. Trump originally tweeted this policy back in July of 2017, but federal courts stopped the ban in early 2018. With the recent Supreme Court ruling to put lower court injunctions on hold, the ban is even closer to taking effect.

For a local perspective on this issue, we hear from Helen James. She’s a 92-year-old Clovis physical therapist who formerly served in the Air Force. She was discharged in 1955 with an “undesirable” status simply for being lesbian. The reason given was that she was a security risk.

James challenged her discharge status and had it updated to “honorable” last year.

Listen to the interview above to hear James talk about her time in the military, and how she thinks the military has and hasn’t changed for other lesbian, gay, and transgender troops today.

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