It's Veteran's Day which means it is time again for my annual Veteran's Day post. Since I am a transgender veteran I understand the day may be a little more special to me but it shouldn't. Our country may not be in the best of condition, just imagine where would we be without the selfless sacrifices of veterans over the years.
My special consideration on Veteran's Day goes out to all the veterans who paid the ultimate price with their lives. How many vets went to their graves not being able to live as their authentic selves as their preferred genders. In addition, how many vets joined the military seeking to prove their worth as a man? We will never know how many servicemen and women lay silent in their graves still withholding their gender secrets.
During my service time, I was in the military way before the so called "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" era when supposedly you were protected from harassment and/or penalties if you were part of the LGBTQ community. Of course, similar to so many other factors which are decided when you compare discrimination between lesbian and/or gay people and transgender individuals. I have heard it referred to as it is much easier to hide gay than trans.
When I was in the Army in the mid 1970's I actually came out of my gender closet to a very few of my closest friends. During one extended evening drinking wonderful and powerful German beer, I blurted out the reason for my Halloween "costume" was it wasn't a costume at all. I was what I was referred to back then was called a transvestite and I sometime preferred wearing women's clothes. I was fortunate in that none of them said anything about me to our superiors and nothing happened. When I/we sobered up, I kept my mouth shut and nothing ever happened. But it certainly could have. Being a transvestite or transgender or cross dresser would not have mattered to my superiors and I could have possibly been dishonorably discharged from the Army because of any of them. As I said, I was able to scurry back into my gender closet and survived the final year of my military service unscathed. In fact I was even offered a promotion if I re-upped for one more year of service. I declined and moved forward and even ended up marrying one of the people I came out to who was also in the Army. Eventually she gave birth to my only beloved daughter.
Here on the blog, I occasionally hear from other transgender veterans who took a similar path in the military during the Vietnam War era. Rather than be drafted many of us took the three year enlistment option to be able to be trained in specialized fields which served us well in life. In my case too, I continue to rely on the Veterans' Administration for my health care and medications. So I guess you could say I was repaid many times over for my three years of service.
Regardless, if you served or not, be sure to take the time out of your busy day to thank a veteran for their service.