Ronnie King is a proud woman of faith — it is a cornerstone of her life and where she looks to for support and guidance. In fact, it is her strong belief that God loves all people that has led her to speak out in support of the transgender community — particularly her daughter, Staff Sergeant First Class Patricia King, who has faithfully served in the U.S. Army for almost twenty years and deployed three times. But now, Patricia and up to 14,000 other transgender troops are being negatively impacted by the Trump administration’s discriminatory transgender military ban, possibly putting their careers in limbo.
“I’m a big talker, I always have been,” Ronnie laughs. “So I know I have a voice — and the question I’ve asked myself is ‘How can I help? What can I do to spread this message [of acceptance]?”
Ronnie’s biggest show of support has been standing beside Patricia, who has become a vocal critic of the ban, testifying before Congress on how it will hurt thousands of active-duty and potential servicemembers; she has also written a book, Follow Me, to be released later this year.
“Her father and I are so proud of Trish, and glad to be on this road with her. She has a voice that can build bridges, not put up walls. Honestly, we’re still in disbelief at the whole situation. How can you tell someone who has served their country and put themselves in harm’s way for our freedom that they aren’t qualified to serve?”
Ronnie admits that while she is in full support of Trish’s journey, it has not always been an easy road. When Trish first came out as transgender, Ronnie had a difficult time adjusting.
“I didn’t understand it at all, “ Ronnie said. “I felt like I was losing the child I’d known all these years — and so many feelings came up.”
Through continued prayer and soul searching, Ronnie began her own journey to acceptance, and she says that one day, after reading and rereading the Bible, she heard her God speak to her: “My grace is sufficient.”
“That was it. That was the moment. I knew in my heart that God loved Trish for who she is, and from then on I never looked back.”
In fact, it was Ronnie who helped Trish select her new middle name — Esther — after reading a passage in the Book of Esther: “Perhaps you were born for such a time as this.” [Note: Esther, 4:14] When Ronnie shared with her church family who Trish is and that she would be living authentically, she was overjoyed to find support and comfort.
Now, Ronnie is standing strong for Trish and all other transgender servicemembers in speaking out against the military ban, and all other forms of anti-LGBTQ discrimination. In her eyes, a transgender person simply being who they are is in and of itself a courageous step, and she hopes that in time, all transgender people, including those serving in the military, will receive the respect they deserve.
“Landing on a mountain in Afghanistan is an act of bravery. But being who you are is also an act of bravery, and it’s so important that we support these incredible people. Just like we as parents teach our children to walk, we need to teach ourselves to walk beside them on their journey.”
To learn more about Trish and follow her continuing journey, visit her website at www.trisheking.com
To read the stories of LGBTQ servicemembers, click here.