VIRGINIA BEACH (WAVY) — After years of staying silent, a transgender member of the military is opening up and sharing his story with 10 On Your Side.
It’s still moving through the courts.
“It was like, are tweets the same as policy? Are we turning this into policy? Is this something for the future? But it still was met with unease in my soul, because now it was something that its back on the forefront, and being challenged after it had just been OK. So, it felt like we had taken two steps forward and three backwards,” said McLean in his first television interview.
McLean has been serving the country for more than eight years, a Yeoman in the United States Navy.
10 On Your Side visited McLean at his home, where he opened up about his journey and took us through his childhood.
Let’s rewind as McLean takes on a trip through his childhood. His birth name is TeSharia Michelle. Now, McClean is opening up and sharing memories of family times, portraits, basketball, and school pictures, too. McLean says he told his parents he was a lesbian at the age of 13.
“I’d progressively gotten more tom boy,” said McLean. “It was easier for me to say that I was a lesbian than for me to say I was trans. There was such a stigma in my family and community of trans people. Growing up, my dad was firm, he’s a military guy, for sure. It was fairly difficult because my parents are really religious, even now, they are both deacons. We struggled for a lot of years back and forth.
McLean followed in the footsteps of his father, an Army veteran, and he enlisted in the military as a female. However, at work and at home he did struggle. He tells 10 On Your Side that he would revel in the moments a stranger would call her “Sir” or mistake her for a man.
“I had to reach that fork in the road where I told myself, it’s you or it’s your career and as horrifying and as scary as it was, at the end of the day, I chose me,” said McLean. “I made the decision to transition.”
He decided to submit a voluntary separation package from the Navy before he could get kicked out.
“It went up somewhere and kind of came back down and they said it doesn’t interfere with your work,” McLean said. “I went ahead and I transitioned and I paid for everything out of pocket.”
Shocked but relieved, McLean continued to serve our country while transitioning. Fast forward to today and eight years served McLean says he’s comfortable with where he is.
In 2016, the Pentagon lifted the ban on transgender troops serving openly in the military. Moving forward, McLean re-enlisted for 6 years in 2017.
That same year, a surprise tweet opened old wounds.
President Donald Trump ordered an end to transgender service in the military.
“To have that so abruptly challenged when you felt safe, it’s kind of like someone pulling the rug from under you,” said McLean.
The President cited adverse affects, morale and cost as reasons for the ban.
Congressman Bobby Scott, a Democrat of Virginia’s 3rd District calls, that a failed excuse.
“They came up with an excuse of medical expenses and then it was determined the total medical expenses didn’t amount to enough to count.”
Scott along with 120 congressional lawmakers signed a letter to reject what they call a ‘discriminatory ban.’
You can view the letter by clicking here.