Persephone Smith is a 46-year-old veteran, who served in the Navy special forces as an Explosive Ordinance Disposal technician. She's also a transgender woman.
Smith is running for the City Council in Brooklyn.
I was not out when I served in the military, but I think people could tell that I was different.
At first, Smith said she actually laughed at Trump’s tweets about people who identify as transgender no longer being allowed to serve openly in the military, “because you don’t make policy over tweets.” But then she quickly realized the ramifications the decision could have on transgender people in the military if Trump follows through on the decision.
I just saw it as a ridiculous thing that Trump does. But looking at it deeper, it’s all about discrimination.
Smith said she believes people who are forced to hide who they really are don’t perform as well on the job – and she speaks from experience.
It was harder for me to work and hold down a job when I wasn’t out. This will drive people back in the closet.
Smith saw combat in Iraq and Nicaragua during her tenure as an Explosive Ordinance Disposal technician in the Navy, and recalled the days of “don’t ask, don’t tell,” when she couldn’t be her “authentic self.”
People like me who did come off as a seemingly different, they were bullied. It made it difficult for us to perform our jobs.
Of course, the purpose of the tweets was to send out the message,
"Let the bullying begin!"
Now is the time to continually push back against this. People look at it like, ‘well it was just a tweet,’ but look at what it’s done.
It’s created this panic amongst people and celebration amongst bigots.
Smith is running to fight for District 37, which includes the Cypress Hills, Bushwick, City Line, Ocean Hill, Brownsville and East New York neighborhoods.
I’ve always been a fighter, from my time in the military to being an activist. Although she’s not officially associated with a specific city organization, Smith has previously marched with the Anti-Violence Project and the Brooklyn Community Pride Center.
Smith said she believes gentrification and a lack of affordable housing are two of the biggest issues residents in her district are facing.
Currently, what the city considers “affordable” is based on the median income of the entire five boroughs plus Westchester, Rockland and Putnam counties. But Smith wants to make it so that affordable housing is based on a median income for each district.
Affordable housing is just part of Smith’s agenda. She also wants to see police and justice reform, and is against broken windows policing.
Trump's "military service," of course, consists of being a bully at a military academy.