Transgender veteran who voted for Trump feels betrayed by call for military ban

Posted at 9:58 PM, Jul 27, 2017
and last updated 2017-07-27 22:36:31-04

ALLEGAN, Mich. – “It hurt. He lied to us.”

These are the words of Tessa Pierce Thomas, a transgender woman and Vietnam War veteran who voted for President Trump. She is among the ranks of people stunned by the president's tweeted announcement Wednesday that transgender people will not be allowed to openly serve in the military.

“He lied to our face right through his teeth, because he was all for the LGBT, wanted their votes,” Thomas said.

Thomas was not openly trans while she served in the military, but she has been openly serving as the commander of the American Legion Post in Allegan for the past two years.

“I was accepted by all the people who are members of the post,” said Thomas. “There’s no reason we can’t serve openly in the military. We serve openly in every other job in this country.”

For the past year, a local filmmaker has been documenting Tessa’s journey as a leader in the transgender community. The project, called Portrait of a Femme: Tessa, is a multi-part series that can be viewed on YouTube.

“Tessa’s story is part of trans history,” says filmmaker Ella Swift Redding. “Tessa is the first trans female American Legion post commander.”

Tessa says she hopes others will be able to proudly and openly serve their country.