Ryan Karnoski is a transgender man living in Washington state, who earned a Masters’ degree in Social Work from the University of Washington. Ryan was raised female but knew from a young age that that didn’t quite fit. When he came out as transgender and began his transition to live every day as the man he has long known himself to be, his family was not accepting, and Ryan wrote candidly in a piece in The New York Times about feeling lonely and isolated. In September 2016, he decided that he wanted to work in the military as a social worker. When he went to local recruiters, he was told to wait to until the ban on enlistment for openly transgender soldiers was lifted. However, his plans were put on hold when President Trump announced his intention to ban transgender servicemembers from military service. Ryan subsequently joined a lawsuit with several other plaintiffs filed against the administration, challenging the constitutionality of the proposed ban.
“At the end of the day, who I serve is about who needs that appointment, not about their identity,” Ryan said. “[This fight] is not about me. And I am so grateful to have role models in some of the trans service members who made the decision to come out and serve openly.”