Fighting to Serve: Transgender Army reservist denied Iraq deployment

(WSVN) - He is a decorated soldier, proud to serve his country and ready to go fight for America. Just one problem: After being in Iraq and Kuwait, the military has told him he is not fit to serve, which Patrick Fraser says has left him “Fighting to Serve.”

There is a reason it’s said, “War is hell.” Terrible to see, horrible to experience, and yet men and women in America proudly volunteer to go fight for our country.

Gary, fighting to serve: “I believe in fighting for those — the people of the United States — and fighting for the constitution.”

We are calling this man “Gary,” an Army veteran who fought for his country in Kuwait and Iraq.

Gary: “I’m a great soldier. I’m a great leader.”

Gary was an active duty soldier for seven years. A highly decorated Army veteran. Then, in 2014, Gary left to go to college, and joined the Army Reserve.

Gary: “To still continue to fight for my country.”

This year, his unit was set to be deployed to Iraq, but an Army surgeon would not give him the clearance to go.

Gary: “Because the surgeon said I was unstable due to my gender marker.”

Simply put, when Gary joined the military, he was listed as a female.

After he left active duty, he spent two and a half years transitioning. With medical procedures, he is now a male.

Gary: “I’m more comfortable with my sexuality now than I was seven years ago.”

Transitioning to a different sex would not have blocked Gary from fighting for his country until this past July, when President Donald Trump declared, “The U.S. government will not accept or allow transgender individuals to serve in any capacity in the U.S. military.”

This disappointed Gary.

Gary: “As a soldier, it doesn’t make a difference. When I wear this uniform, we all look as soldiers.”

Gary believes the decision left the military confused, and they concluded, since he joined as a female and was now a male, he was transitioning. An Army surgeon wrote, “His transition is not complete,” and he was not approved to go to Iraq.

Gary: “The surgeon that denied my request to go to deployment, she did not examine me. She was never there.”

And the military surgeon either missed or didn’t accept this affidavit from a year earlier, when a Miami doctor wrote, “I performed sex reassignment surgery. From a medical perspective, [Gary] is now male.”

Gary: “No, I never thought that right would be taken away, to be able to serve my country.”

Gary says he appealed the Army’s decision. He lost.

Daniel Tilley, ACLU: “I think it was clearly not the proper decision.”

Daniel Tilley says the Army was wrong when they concluded that Gary’s transition was not complete.

Daniel Tilley: “This man has done literally everything he can do to demonstrate to society that he is male. He has had surgery, he has had a doctor write letters on his behalf confirming that fact, and yet still the military is saying this is not enough.”

In a statement, a military spokesman wrote, “The Army Reserve remains committed to treating all soldiers with dignity and respect.”

And there may be some hope for Gary, because the the spokesman added, “Our command did reach out to the soldier and will address any challenges preventing the soldier from meeting individual readiness standards.”

Also last week, a federal judge temporarily stopped the U.S. government from banning transgender soldiers in the military while the courts figure it out.

But that’s too late this time for Gary. His unit has already been deployed to Iraq, leaving behind a decorated soldier.

Gary: “If people want to serve their country, and people are willing to put their life on the line, they should be able to serve their country.”

Gary always wanted to serve his country. He never thought he would also have to fight to serve his country.

Copyright 2017 Sunbeam Television Corp. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.