Local veteran advocates for safeguards after transgender military ban lifted

Posted at 5:54 PM, Feb 01, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-01 21:21:29-05

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — A combat veteran said safeguards need to be set in stone after President Biden lifted the transgender military ban.

As a child, Olivia Hill believed she was a girl like her mother and grandmother, but she was born a boy. For years, she tried to hide her identity, and eventually joined the military.

"I had kind of an issue because I was transgender but I kept it hidden, and so I was beaten up a pretty good bit in boot camp because I was a little feminine, so I had to kind of man-myself-up and hide it best as I could," said Hill.

Olivia served two tours during Desert Storm. "If someone’s transgender and they can serve, and they’re willing to serve, they ought to be able to," Hill said.

Years later, President Trump banned transgender people from serving in the military due to medical costs and disruptions. "As long as they conformed to the gender they were born, they would be able to finish out their service, it was kind of like the old don’t ask don’t tell, if you hide it and act like it’s not there, we’ll let you finish," Hill said.

On his first day in office, President Biden lifted the ban. Hill said she was "elated and relieved." Now, she believes rules and safeguards need to be put in place. "Which is my biggest thing that I hope they work on now is education and training for people so that they can stop bullying because I know that it will continue, but we just have to get a handle on it," Hill said.

She said it's difficult when the policy keeps changing, and believes there needs to be a law in place to create some consistency. "We’re all red-blooded Americans, and we all have the ability to serve if we can, and if one has the ability and the desire, they should be able to," Hill said.

In her free time, she runs a transgender support group and is active in her church. She's also a board member of the Nashville LGBT Chamber.