TINKER AIR FORCE BASE, Okla. —
Imagine feeling like you’ve played a fictional character your whole life. This is how Staff Sgt. Bryan Tisdale, the assistant non-commissioned officer in charge of the 72nd Logistics Readiness Squadron, and many other members of the transgender community, felt.
Before accepting himself and coming out to his peers, Tisdale lived with tribulation, constantly questioning Bryan’s masculinity and behaviors.
Tisdale said the internal struggle started at a young age, stemming from an admiration for the color pink.
“One of my earliest memories was seeing the color pink and thinking it was the prettiest color I had seen,” Tisdale said. “I liked it so much that I immediately turned to my cousin and told him it was my favorite color. He replied, ‘It’s a girl’s color. You have to like a boy’s color,’ and I didn’t understand why.
As Tisdale grew, she realized that her attraction to women went beyond admiration, she identified as a woman and struggled with self-acceptance.
Growing up in a very traditional and conservative household, Tisdale says she always felt compelled to behave in a more masculine way.
“I’ve always been Anahlisa and felt like I was stuck in a room with a TV and a game console, playing the roleplaying game that is Bryan. That’s the best way I can. describe,” she said.
With a strong desire to serve his country, Tisdale joined the Air Force in September 2007. During this time, the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy was in place. Out of fear of hatred and retaliation, Tisdale continued to suppress his true identity.
Nearly a decade later, DOD’s transgender policy has come to fruition, opening a door for Tisdale and those in the military. At this time, Tisdale was married and had a child on the way. Despite being married to a woman, Tisdale was conflicted about how she would live her life going forward. While his wife knew his true identity, she knew that a transition to becoming truly Anahlisa would affect their marriage.
Other than Tisdale’s wife, no one knew she was transgender. It all changed one day when an Airman in his unit said he was transgender himself and wanted to transition. Tisdale felt honored that her airman felt comfortable enough to share something so private, she also felt inspired by their bravery. This airman led the way within the LRS, and throughout their journey, Tisdale saw how open and accepting everyone was.
After much self-reflection, in 2019 Tisdale made the decision to transition and become transgender. Upon returning from his third deployment, Tisdale made an appointment with mental health and sought advice from his colleague. However, Tisdale faced a new hurdle, a temporary ban on transgender people in the military. Still, Tisdale continued her transition search after learning that a sailor had been granted a ban waiver.
In 2021, after the pandemic halted, Tisdale was finally able to begin its transition journey. With the help of Dr. Steven Hubbard, a clinical psychologist with the 72nd Operational Medical Readiness Squadron, Tisdale finally began his journey to transition from Bryan to Anahlisa.
Before coming out and beginning her transition, Tisdale said she felt no reason to live or progress in her career until now.
“I felt like I was always playing someone else, so why would it matter?” said Tisdale.
While the decision to come out caused a rift in her marriage, Tisdale says she finally feels free to be able to show her true self.
“I feel like I have goals now, it encourages me to complete my education and push for rank, and really be there for my Airmen.”
Tisdale leads 14 airmen, ensuring that the necessary equipment is delivered to the combatant. Most recently, LRS provided over 250,000 meals in Costa Rica as part of an ongoing effort to fight world hunger.
This Pride Month, Tisdale feels honored to be able to share her story of perseverance.
“I realize there are a lot of women in the military who deserve to have their stories heard,” Tisdale said. “I hope to show Airmen that being trans in the military doesn’t have to hold you back. If you can get out there, you can go wild and reach heights you never thought possible before.
Tisdale credits her release in large part to the “incredible” leadership of Tinker AFB who stood by and supported her through the process.
“I think she’s an inspirational airwoman,” said 72nd Air Base Wing Commander Col. Hall Sebren, “she stays true to herself, which can be hard for anyone to do in difficult situations. ordinary circumstances. By telling her story, she allows others to be open and honest about who they are. At the same time, she confidently and competently leads Airmen through difficult missions. Most recently, she led her team to respond to an extremely demanding and short-notice wave of missions here at Tinker. I couldn’t be more proud of Anahlisa and her team for perfectly ensuring the success of the mission. The mission doesn’t care about your gender, your race or family background Our ability to think through issues from multiple angles is what ensures we get the right answer and complete the mission, every time.
Although her journey has not been without its difficulties, the experience has opened Tisdale’s eyes. The fear she once had is gone. With the support of her wingers and her leadership, she is able to be herself.
Recognizing the resilience and strength of transgender, gender non-conforming and non-binary Americans, March 31 has been declared Transgender Visibility Day. Fostering a culture of inclusion, we highlight the activism and determination that fuels the fight for transgender equality.
The inclusion of transgender and non-binary Americans is important to everyone. “If you don’t feel comfortable talking about gender identity issues because you don’t understand the terminology or the different identities used by this community, you are not alone, and there is always time to ‘learn,’ says Brianna Russ of the Air Force Materiel Command’s. Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Accessibility team.
If you would like to learn more and be notified of resources on how to create this culture of inclusion, please contact Tinker’s DEIA office at 72ABW.DER.Workflow@us.af.mil.