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You and I have some history in common, Lee. I'm sure you saw in my earlier post how I took ROTC to avoid Vietnam––even if it meant a commitment to eventually service. Just starting my four years of undergrad schooling (1962), I was absolutely certain Vietnam would be long since over by the time I got my BA. Stupid me! In any event, the army sent me to Korea first, which meant I was there, right up on the Imjin DMZ, when not only the Pueblo was seized but also the North sent thirty-plus commandos to Seoul to assassinate the ROK president. We too were put on max-high alert. Although the assassination attempt was thwarted, the would-be assassins fled back to North, most of them using the valley where my battalion was situated. Those days turned out to be a great preview of what my life would be like when, a year-and-a-half later, I'd find myself in Vietnam. I too join the peace movement nce I finally got discharged (1970). ––Riannon

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Retired Air Force/ ANG.

1977-1981 US Navy 

1992-1998 US Naval Reserve

1998-2015 US Air Force / Air National Guard

Very busy career after 9/11

I would have enjoyed it all more had I been able to be "myself".

Thrilled that transgender is now accepted, but it will be still very tough as attitudes and discrimination will be present within the ranks.

Redefines "The men and women of the Armed Forces"

 

 

 

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  • Forum Moderator

Welcome @sineadh and thanks for your service.  

 

Jani

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Welcome sineadh. Thanks for your service and sacrifice.

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I'm curious. Among those of us who served, how did your trans self manifest itself while you were in uniform? I went into the Army in December 1967. In early December, knowing I was about to begin my three-years obligated service, I did a massive purge of all my fem stuff. I believe I honestly thought I'd never need it again. How wrong it was! As soon as I returned to the States after a year in South Korea and found myself stationed at Ft. Leonard Wood, Missouri, I began mail-ordering replacements for everything I'd thrown away. (Remember those wonderful Lane Bryant catalogues?) In a matter of weeks, I'd completely un-purged. I felt so foolish for having purged in the first place. ––Riannon 

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I was not consciously aware of being trans, or anything like it, while in uniform.  I was aware that I was not particularly macho, but I did my best to hide the fact. 

 

I quietly cringed when I heard my associates make crude comments about women, but I made sure they didn't see my reaction.  When I heard rumours from my fellow instructors that a female student was offering her instructor sexual favours in exchange for good grades, I just knew that the exchange was initiated by the instructor, not by the student.

 

In other words, I was thinking like a woman.  And I made damn sure no one noticed that.

 

*Sigh*

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First I was in denial, so I repressed it and went about as macho as you can go in the army. (Airborne, Ranger, Infantry.) Then later, when I became an NCO and could live either off post or in the BEQ, I was able to cycle through the whole "hide and purge" thing.  It also helped that I changed my MOS into MIlitary Intelligence and wound up in a strategic level series of assignments which meant no time in the field except for operational deployments (read: Desert Shield/Storm and Bosnia). Still, I had to be VERY car4eful and was only able to come out as trans after I had retired from both the Army and Federal Civil Service.

 

You see, back in the day, being trans was grounds to revoke a security clearance, which I couldn't afford to have happen.

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Nor was I aware of being trans. I just assumed I was gay. My needing to dress? Well, I just assumed that was something gay men did––not all, only some. I accepted that I was a gay crossdresser, pure and simple. It would be years before I heard the word "trans." Back in the States after that first overseas tour in South Korea, and once I'd successfully replenished my fem wardrobe (to include a godawful blond wig I'm ashamed today to admit I would actually wear!), I'd dress and go for long, slow (read: cautious) drives around the quieter roads on post. As I think back now on those "special" nights, I realize, although the clothes were fun, something––something I couldn't name––was missing. ––Riannon

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  • Forum Moderator
22 hours ago, KathyLauren said:

I was not consciously aware of being trans, or anything like it, while in uniform.  I was aware that I was not particularly macho, but I did my best to hide the fact. 

I agree with Kathy's sentiment here.  

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And I (I'm embarrassed to say) did all I could to appear macho. I'm sure my appearance of macho-ness was just that: an appearance. I'll bet, if I had video of myself back then, I'd gag! But, of course, my crazy need to appear super-macho was nothing more than a measure of how terrified I was of having my real self come out.

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  • 2 weeks later...

I deeply repressed my trans while I served, as much as possible. My femininity would emerge during times of heavy stress, but not so that I couldn't control it. I wore female underwear under my uniform in Iraq. That was not easy to keep hidden. By doing those small feminine reinforcing things I was able to manage the stress and maintain focus.

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Hello, Sineadh. Your wearing female underwear did for you what my occasional late night drives en femme around Fort Leonard Wood did for me: take the pressure off. Since back then I still assumed I was gay, I and a gay buddy would go to St. Louis on weekends to "do" the gay bars. It was then that I realized that my needs––my "identity" needs––lay elsewhere. I remember arriving back at Ft. Wood totally puzzled. Several years were still go go by before I'd solve that puzzle. ––Riannon

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On 7/26/2021 at 2:22 PM, Riannon said:

Hello, Sineadh. Your wearing female underwear did for you what my occasional late night drives en femme around Fort Leonard Wood did for me: take the pressure off. Since back then I still assumed I was gay, I and a gay buddy would go to St. Louis on weekends to "do" the gay bars. It was then that I realized that my needs––my "identity" needs––lay elsewhere. I remember arriving back at Ft. Wood totally puzzled. Several years were still go go by before I'd solve that puzzle. ––Riannon

I too had a similar experience with discovering not being gay. It also left me more confused than before. The military is a tough place to try and figure out one's gender. I actually went to counselling and was told to " suck it up & be a man!" I didn't push it after that session. I was worried about getting a section 8. 

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You're right: the military IS a tough place to try to figure one's gender. I'm old enough to remember that when I was in the military none of us (or very few, and only secretly) was trying to figure out gender. Sexual orientation? Sure, many  of us were hoping to puzzle that out. As for me, my fem urges––I just figured that was part of being gay. I didn't realize that gender was something else entirely. I'm not sure when I discovered that. Many, many years later, I'd guess. ––Riannon

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Riannon--I couldn't agree more. It was essentially the same for me.  I would add that back in the late '70s, early '80s (when I joined) that gender dysphoria wasn't even recognized, le alone understood. Especially in the military. In fact, the policy was simple, straight (pun intended) forward and direct: you were either straight or gay. Period. And if you were gay, and it was discovered, you were subject to court-martial, dishonorable discharge and physical abuse from your "comrades." This changed a bit in the early '90s when Bill Clinton implemented "Don't Ask, Don't Tell," and has evolved even further since then. One of the last vestiges of discrimination is the policy whereby a security clearance can be revoked if a person is gay or trans.

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Things were the same in the Canadian military back in the 70s and early 80s.  I am happy to say that things have changed for the better.  Actively-serving gay and trans members are supported.  Security clearances are not revoked, because that policy would create exactly the security risk that it ostensibly is concerned about.  If you are open about who you are, no one can coerce secrets from you by threatening you with exposure. 

 

A good friend of mine is openly trans / bi-gender in uniform.  He wears male uniform and answers to "sir" when in male mode, and she wears female uniform and answers to "ma'am" when in female mode, all with the full blessing of the brass.

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    Certainly many different experiences. For me joining the military was an escape. I hated gym class primarily because of the locker rooms and my parents showed me information on the NJROTC offered by the high-school and since it got my out of gym I signed up my freshmen year. All through high-school I had experienced bully primarily because people thought I was gay and I never quite fit in.  My junior I had been badly beaten by a group of boys who threatened to kill me, and yet another smaller group was constantly harassing me going as far to try and run me off the road. I deceided I needed out of Texas and I knew I would have to live at home if I went to college so I talked my mom into letting me sign up for the Navy. Having told the recruiter I wanted to leave ASAP I left for Chicago 3 days after graduation in June of 1996

  I didn't know I was Transgender at the time only that I was different and needed out. The Navy gave me a place to blend in and see the world, plus I loved being out to sea. I did struggle at first but then I met Rhonda and she helped me we became best of friends doing everything together. Eventually I met my wife through her and figured out what was causing me so much grief in 2002 thanks to the internet. It helped me a lot to know that there where other people out there like me. At the time I had been dating my wife for two years and we decided to get married. After 2 years of marriage when our oldest son was 1 in 2004 I told my wife that I always felt that I was a girl and wanted to do something about it. She took it hard in the beginning but thanks to forums such as this one began to understand. For many years I lived a double life and finally retired in June of 2020 because I was tired of it. I was able to cope because of my wife and her support even though there were plenty of times the only identity I could assume was that of a Sailor being away from home so much.  I am grateful that things are changing and can only hope they stay that way for future generations, but believe me when I tell you the military still has a long way to go.  There are plenty of bigots but even more people who are simply uneducated about transgender people.

 Take care,

Jamie

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9 hours ago, Chiefsrule58 said:

For me joining the military was an escape. I hated gym class primarily because of the locker rooms

Heh heh heh.    

Seriously though, I'm glad you made it through it.   It is great that your wife is supportive.

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Hi, Jamie

 

This is the first I've heard of ROTC in high school. I joined as a college freshman. Today, in all honesty, I can't say why I joined. I've told some that I wanted to avoid going to Vietnam (where I ended up anyway). Others, that I wanted my four years if college to be uninterrupted (even though a draft was not yet happening). Sometimes I think I joined ROTC to learn more about how to be a man. If you remember from my earlier post, in high school I thought I was gay; although an old high school chum I'm still in touch with tells me that, as a boy in high school, I was not an "obvious" gay. That may have been true, but I privately knew (or at least felt) that somewhat about my manhood was lacking. It wouldn't be until years later when I first learned of gender dysphoria that I'd realize there wasn't something about my manhood that was lacking; it was my belief that manhood itself was my birthright that was 100% wrong.

 

Riannon

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I have been serving in the USAF since 2016. And I genuinely love my job. For the past few years I've gradually been putting the same pieces most of yall had together, and concluded that I would be happier as a woman. So I am very excited that there is a chance I can transition and keep the job I enjoy so much. I haven't come out to anybody close to me yet, but I think about it almost every day. Just apprehensive because the process is so new, I'm not too keen on being the guinea pig. Haha. But for real, thank all of yall for your service. It's truly an honor to be a member of this forum with you.

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  • Forum Moderator

@Aylamac thank you for your service and I wish you luck. Can you see a therapist where you are stationed to guide you in your exploration of your gender identity? I think that would be a safe way to help learn how to approach telling those you wish to tell. I have not been in the military however my wife was in the USAF and I have a close friend who retired as a jet pilot from the U S Navy and drummer friend was in the Army. My Viet Nam era brother serviced in the Army as well.

 

Best Wishes and know you have support no matter what you decide is your particular journey. 

 

One other suggestion - if you are questioning, a wonderful workbook to help you learn more about who you are and what is right for you is "You and Your Gender Identity" by Dara Huffman-Fox, a clinical therapist. You can get it on Amazon for $14 or $15. It helped me emmensely.

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1 hour ago, Aylamac said:

I'm not too keen on being the guinea pig. Haha.

Yeah.  I hope you can work it out okay.  

Good luck.

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Aylamac, I wish you all the success in the world! Your story astounds me: How the world has changed! The way it was when I and many others posting on this topic would never have permitted us to even think about transitioning in uniform, let alone actually do it. Please, please, please keep us updated. We'll all be thinking of you and wishing you the very best. ––Riannon

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Aylamac,

     I would recommend that you do your research on the policies and procedures, don't expect anyone else to be the SME. I think it's important to know also that even though times have supposedly changed there are still those that you will find are not on your side and are less than helpful. Don't let them stand in your way, that's why it's so important to know the policies.

 Not trying to be too negative because there are plenty of people who do and will support you. Also I caution you to be careful about to whom you come out and Do not do it until you are ready. I recommend that you check and see if there is an LGBT support group where you are stationed.  if so consider joining, it could prove to be a great resource for you. I wish you luck, take care.

 

Jamie

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