Service Member Narratives



"When I joined the Marines, i knew i was enlisting under 'Don't Ask Don't Tell,' but i was not prepared for the rampant homophobia and transphobia that was steeped in the military's culture. There was, and continues to be, zero room for individual expression beyond the gender binary- and moreover, for expressions outside of toxic masculinity. As a gender non-conforming person, i had to continually deny and silence my true, vibrant, soft, and genderful self over and over. It wasn't until after the military, that i could feel safe to start discovering myself."

"There is a cultural problem in the military... You can't just say there is help for those that ask when you know that less than 15% of survivors report sexual assault in the military. That's why it took me 5 years to admit I had been raped."


"I'm a sharpshooter, the first person in my otherwise all male squadron to step into a grappling ring, I can move two, count them, TWO C-130 tires BY MYSELF, which if you've ever had the pleasure of working in Aviation Supply you know is quite a feat.

Yet here I was in full uniform on my hands and knees scrubbing a fridge listening to a second rate Staff Seargent tell me all about how I needed to be 'domestic' enough for marrying rather than thanking me for taking the initative.

I'ts strange the moments that stick with you, that change you.

That day I realized that even if I became the Commandant of the Marice Corps, I'd still just be a girl.

Which was a really jarring realization since I joined the Corps to be a Marine."

-Chantelle Bateman

Conscientious objector Rosa del Duca talks about what happened when she realized joining the Army National Guard was a huge mistake. (If you would like Before Enlisting to donate a copy of Rosa's memoir to your school, just email us.)