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In Colorado, One Transgender Veteran Says She is ‘Resolute’ In The Face Of Trump’s Ban

Emma Shinn, 41 is a Marine. She served 20 years when being a transgender person was banned. She retired in 2014 and transitioned in 2016.
Bente Birkeland
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Capitol Coverage
Emma Shinn, 41 is a Marine. She served 20 years when being a transgender person was banned. She retired in 2014 and transitioned in 2016.

After President Trump tweeted that the U.S. military would no longer “allow or accept” transgender people to serve, troops on the ground were left with uncertainty. Military leaders say the policy won’t change until top Pentagon officials figure out how to implement it.

Emma Shinn is a 41-year-old Coloradan and veteran. She served in the Marine Corps for 20 years before retiring in 2014. When she served there was a ban on transgender people. Last year, she transitioned.  

Emma Shinn describes her military experience serving in combat as an enlisted platoon sergeant and then later as a judge advocate.

Interview Highlights

On what her transgender active duty friends are telling her in the wake of Trump’s statement:

Shinn: The predominant feeling initially was fear, not being able to have a firm grasp on what tomorrow was going to look like, what the next month is going to look like and whether they have a career. That uncertainty bled into sadness and disappointment. That eventually morphed into being very resolute and determined to make sure the public and their command know they are the same service man or woman [they were] the day before, and they’re going to do their job to the utmost of their ability.

On potential positives from the ban:

Shinn: Engaging in those conversations and sharing the fact that we are just like every other American is going to have long-term positive benefits, not just for the trans community, but for our nation because America is built on a very rich diversity.

On whether she would have transitioned earlier had the military allowed it:

Shinn: I don’t know. We can play the speculation game all day long. I did come out as queer post the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell because I thought it was important for our leaders and our officers to lead by example. Marines lead by example. So I would like to think I would have transitioned.

Capitol Coverage is a collaborative public policy reporting project, providing news and analysis to communities across Colorado for more than a decade. Fifteen public radio stations participate in Capitol Coverage from throughout Colorado.

Copyright 2021 KUNC. To see more, visit KUNC.

Bente Birkeland
Bente Birkeland has been reporting on state legislative issues for KUNC and Rocky Mountain Community Radio since 2006. Originally, from Minnesota, Bente likes to hike and ski in her spare time. She keeps track of state politics throughout the year but is especially busy during the annual legislative session from January through early May.
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