SAN CLEMENTE, Calif. — Through her curiosity of submarines, Rose Scot found herself serving as a sonar tech in the U.S. Navy during Operation Desert Storm.
But it took hiding her true self to serve her country.
"I lived behind a mask on what I was," Scot said. "Nobody saw who I really was. Nobody knew who the real person was behind the male mask."
Since she was eight years old, Scot knew her outer reflection didn’t match how she felt inside. As she became older, negative reactions from those she knew forced her to hide her true self, even as she proudly served her country in the military.
"Everybody entrusts everyone else on that submarine with their life," she said. "All it takes is one person to flip a wrong switch turn on a wrong valve or not do the job, like in my case, being a sonar technician. I’m the eyes and ears of a submarine, and here I have a secret that I can’t tell anybody."
Despite excelling in her military career with multiple ribbons, medals, and awards, the stress of hiding that secret led Scot away from reenlistment and to a doorway to live openly as a transgender woman. It’s estimated that about 15,500 transgender individuals served in our military in 2014, according to a UCLA study, which also estimates that there were more than 130,000 trans individuals who were veterans.
President Biden's revoking of the 2018 Trump-era ban brought a glimmer of hope and inclusivity for transgender veterans like Scot and the city of West Hollywood’s Transgender Advisory Board, which advocates for transgender rights.
“If we want to serve our country, we should be able to serve our country, so it’s really exciting and it's really freeing, and as a mental health professional it’s actually going to help a lot of individuals feel that they have a sense of belonging,” said Jake Rostovsky, chair of the advisory board.
For Scot, the revocation means more opportunities for those who should have never had their rights to serve in the military taken away.
"The main thing you need going into the military is a commitment to do a job," said Scot. "And if you are capable of doing said job, I don’t think it matters what color your skin is, what god you worship or sexual preference, or if you are male or female."
Scot is hopeful that with renewed tones of inclusivity, trans individuals like herself who chose to enlist will feel the freedom to openly be their true self while defending this country.