A male-to-female transgendered woman who served in the US Marines as a man is seeking to return to service as a US Air Force Officer.
Ellie -formerly Don- Lader, is a US Marine veteran, Air Force Reservist and survivor of the Aurora, Colorado shooting of 2012.
According to the Norwalk Reflector, Lader was inspired to re-join by the Orlando terrorist attack.
“I’ve been hemming and hawing over how to say this and I think straight to the point is best,” the 31-year-old wrote on social media. “I spoke to an Air Force recruiter to go back on active (duty) with a commission because that is what the Air Force needs.”
However, it is uncertain when -or even if- she will be notified of her re-acceptance into military ranks.
Ellie and her wife Jacqueline are both US Marine veterans and survivors of the 2012 Aurora shooting that left twelve dead and seventy injured in it’s wake. Since that night, Ellie had troubles dealing with the incident and sought counseling. It was then that she decided that she had been born in the wrong gender and wanted to physically transition into womanhood.
“Every day where I wasn’t living to my fullest was another day that James Holmes still had control over my life,” Ellie said. “I had a second chance at life. … Why should I let fear get in the way of me being who I am?”
Despite the awkward navigation through the VA health system for hormone therapy and occasional out of pocket costs (it cost nearly $5,000 to remove her testicles). However, Ellie realized that nobody saw the two-time Iraq veteran that she was. It doesn’t matter that she served two tours in Iraq. “I’m a transgender woman,” she said. “People see that first.”
Regardless, Ellie’s post-military career as a licensed massage therapist didn’t seem enough. When Secretary of Defense Ash Carter opened the military to transgendered persons, she saw her chance.
“My skill set is still needed, and I’m able, and therefore as far as I’m concerned, I’m obligated to help,” she said before the announcement. “And this time I know I can do it better- because I am who I am now. I don’t have to hide my true self.”
Feeling that parts of the country were shrugging off the Orlando killings- something Ellie wondered would be different if the victims weren’t gay, she felt compelled to go to her recruiter and send the packet forward.
The status of her recruitment process is unknown at this time.
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