The Road Less Traveled

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Jessica Radanavong on

 Every now and then, even though I follow several very popular LGBTQ and Transgender sites such as Stana's "Femulate", I wonder how many cross dressers or trans folks there are in the world.

Sometimes I think there not very many but then again more than I think. My thoughts began relatively early when I began to experience the public as a novice transgender woman. A prime example was when I first began to go to the Veterans Administration for my health care. Included in the care were the basics allowing me to begin gender affirming hormones. During my first visits, I could tell I was the main educator to the VA staff who had never seen a trans person before. I knew then, I was on the road less traveled with my gender issues. 

Over a short period of time, I found differences in how I was treated started to change. I became less of an educator and my providers were more likely to understand my needs. It is important to note how well over the years my VA health team has treated me. Plus, over the years, I have received several other comments from transgender veterans such as this one:

" It was interesting to read of your experience with the VA. Shortly after I retired I began receiving primary care through the nearest VA clinic. I was able to select a female physician and made my first clinic visit presenting as a woman. I had already indicated that I was transgender woman on some on-line forms, as to avoid any confusion. And, my first name on all legal documents is Kimberly, so that kinda sets expectation, I suppose.

Anyway, I weighed in and was roomed by the RN, a lovely young woman. She lead me through the perfunctory questions that had to be asked, and used my preferred (she) pronounce when she introduced me to the doctor. The doctor was similarly courteous. I was a bit surprised when she asked when I had GRS and how long I had been on HRT. (I have had neither and at my age consider these would offer little net benefit for me). We did talk a bit about my transition goals, which are pretty limited at this point.

I had two routine follow up visits with this physician at the VA clinic. During these visits I was always treated with not just courtesy but genuine kindness and friendliness. I had very enjoyable conversations with the staff. Perhaps it helped that I was coming from a health care admin background."

Thanks so much for the input Kimberly! I know various other VA centers vary in their care standards especially when it comes to LGBTQ vets and primarily transgender veterans. If you have a different story, feel free to comment. 

It is said, any public relations is good even though it is not well meaning. During this time in our transgender history when so many negative laws are being proposed and passed in states such as my native Ohio, when the public sees me now, I know increasingly I am on the road more traveled. Sadly, gender bigots in the world are emboldened by their ignorance and somehow are encouraged to voice their unwanted opinions of me. 

My days of existing under the radar in a larger world has gone by the wayside. It seems every night on the news I see information on ill advised politicians  coming after me and my transgender friends. Even though I am so fortunate to be surrounded by a strong group of trans allies, I still suffer from the paranoia I feel when my road into the world becomes more traveled.