My name is Stephanie. I was born and I enlisted into the Air Force as Jonathan from St. Louis, Missouri. My father was in the Air Force as well, and it just made sense for me to leave home the same way. My first year in the military was filled with what I would say every child leaving home deals with; learning who they are and learning to accept the different parts of who they are. That’s when I came out as transgender male-to-female, and at first, it was a very difficult few months. I first only came out to certain friends, and of course family, and all the change left me in a difficult place until I was introduced to the military’s lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender community, OutServe-SLDN, Germany. Through this group I made many friends, and was accepted into their family almost immediately. After a few months of this, I had the confidence to live as who I was until I began pursuing treatment.
My family doesn’t discuss the fact I am transgender. They know I am pursuing treatment but that is the last we have talked about. Luckily my close friends already knew, they were just waiting for me to open up to them. These friendships have grown closer and continue to do so as they get to know the person that was always there, Stephanie.
I was surprised to see how much support and respect I was being given from everyone at first. Of course, there are people who don’t understand, but I have rarely been treated with any disrespect for who I am, and the paths I have chosen. The leadership I have is 100 percent supportive, and the resources that are available to me to pursue my transition have been much more available than I originally thought they would. While it has been a hard year, and it hasn’t been easy, I am very grateful for everything the military has put into place for me and am looking forward to seeing where this journey will take me next.