MIAMI (CBSMiami) – When Umut Dursun became a U.S. Marine 17 years ago, things were quite different – he served as a woman. It was before he transitioned from female to male. But one thing remained constant, his reason to join.
“I love my country. I went into the military because I wanted to serve and defend. I signed an oath – I will defend that to a tee. That has nothing to do with my experience of gender, I’m just patriotic,” Dursun said.
Dursun was surprised to hear of the about face, with President Donald Trump calling to reinstate the ban on transgender service members.
“That doesn’t mean those people are going to go back in the closet or that they don’t exist. They’re there and they will continue to be there,” Dursun said. “So it just brings up new questions. Now that they’re there, what do we do now?”
Anthony Verdugo is with the Christian Family Coalition in Miami. He stands by the president’s call to reinstate the transgender soldier ban.
“The military’s not obligated to take anyone they don’t believe contributes to the readiness, the cohesiveness and morale of the fighting unit,” Verdugo said. “The military has two purposes: to break things and kill people, that’s it. Win wars for America.”
Verdugo said for him this is a fiscal issue. The president said transgender soldiers will rack up huge medical bills. Trump’s position contradicts a study conducted under the Obama administration that found the costs would be minimal.
“Americans don’t want their tax payer money used for that. They want their tax payer money used to buy planes, to buy bombers, to defend this country – not to pay for anybody’s sex change operation, sorry,” Verdugo said.
Dursun said he’s saddened by the decision but hopes people will take the time to learn more about the up to 7,000 transgender men and women who are currently serving.
“Once we can talk about things we don’t understand, once we can sit down face to face and have a conversation, that’s when real change happens,” Dursun said.
Equality Florida calls Trump’s action alarming, unacceptable and discriminatory. The Florida Democratic Party said it show callous disregard for the lives of LGBTQ service members.