By Lemor Abrams

SACRAMENTO (CBS13) — Trudi Mathison is comfortable in her skin now. But 40 years after being forced to hide her identity in the military, the transgender army veteran hopes to shed light on the grief her gender-struggle caused her.

Not the dozens of surgeries it took to transition from a man to a woman. But the courage she found to hide her true self.

“I just played the game,” she said.

Trudi went by “Allen.” The handsome 18-year-old soldier operated a nuclear missile site in Germany in the 1970s. But the real battle was waged within.

“There was no Don’t Ask Don’t Tell in my time, so I just kept quiet,” she said.

Despite the progress transgender people have made in society, many fellow veterans say they’re better off keeping quiet in the military.

“To me, it’s their choice, but serving openly, no,” said Fred Loveland.

Fred Loveland served in Vietnam and has been skeptical of the government ever since. But for a change, he has faith in the current administration and President Donald Trump’s new decision to ban transgender people from service.

“I don’t want to see them get hurt, and it can happen,” he said.

For Mathison, the only pain was serving in secret. And she hopes the transgender military ban doesn’t force people back into hiding.

“We have right to be who we are, and I think we have a right to serve,” she said.

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