By Andy Sheehan

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PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – The U.S. Supreme Court is allowing the Trump Administration to restrict military service by transgender individuals. The justices did not rule on the merits of a lawsuit challenging the ban, but will allow it to move forward while lower courts work through it.

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What does that mean for one local military service member who identifies as a man?

By all appearances, Chance Thomas is a stocky, red-bearded male. But back in the early 2000s he was a woman serving in the U.S. military as a naval military police officer.

After being honorably discharged, he took hormonal drugs and transitioned to become a man but believes that being transgender shouldn’t prevent him from serving again.

“If you walked by me on the street, what about me says that I’m trans?” Thomas asked.

“So what does me being trans have anything to do with my merit as a human being?”

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Thomas says the U.S. Supreme Court decision to temporarily reinstate the Trump Administration’s ban on transsexual in the military constitutes discrimination. The administration has argued that transgender troops create a divisive presence but Thomas rejects the notion that people like him are a detriment.

“It’s not about troop readiness, it’s not about unit cohesion, it’s not about hormones, it’s not about gender,” Thomas said. “It is ultimately the Supreme Court just said it’s OK to discriminate against people who aren’t like you.”

Serving from 1999 to 2005, the nave took Thomas from Guantanamo Bay to Afghanistan to Iraq. Although he identified at that time as a lesbian, he says he served honorably and well, causing no friction with heterosexual troops.

“I’ve always been pretty Tom-boyish,” Thomas said. “So as far as the military, I fit in. I just hung out with the guys and nobody really had a problem with it.”

And fears that if the ban stands — transsexual will be discriminated against in all walks of society.

“What does that going to look like for police departments, fire departments, hospitals, schools,” Thomas said. “You’re saying someone isn’t fit to do a job just because of who they are.”

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The Trump policy allows transgenders already serving in the military to continue, but it bars new recruits and prohibits active soldiers from transitioning. Challenges will likely reach the Supreme Court for a ruling on its constitutionality.