In July of 2015, Defense Secretary Carter made it clear that the most important qualification for service members should be whether they’re able and willing to do their job, not their sexual orientation or gender.

In just under a year, women have joined the ranks of combat arms and a transgender man is even serving as a squad leader in the United States Army Infantry. Staff Sergeant Patricia King was born with the biological features of a man, but has been tormented by a sense of being in the wrong body since the age of eight, according to BI.

SSG Patricia King

SSG Patricia King

Last June, SSG King became the first openly transgender infantryman in the US Army after almost sixteen years of hiding within the ranks.  The infantry squad leader has deployed to Afghanistan three times since the Global War on Terrorism began, with the first deployment in 2001.

Patricia King 2

Technically, SSG King could be discharged from the Army for being openly transgender, but since Ash Carter announced plans to rethink this policy, the Army has not been actively pursuing discharges.

“…we have transgender soldiers, sailors, airmen, and Marines – real, patriotic Americans – who I know are being hurt by an outdated, confusing, inconsistent approach that’s contrary to our value of service and individual merit,” said Carter.

For more information about SSG King’s story visit Business Insider

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