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Friday, April 23, 2010

The Continuing Story of My Friend Jane, the Transgender Veteran

Hello Invisible Reader,

I'm very happy to report to you that there's a very positive end to this story.  Sort of.  Jane's fight for acceptance will never end.  We all know that.  It's sad but it's true.  But I'll let Jane tell you that in her own words further on in this blog.  The truth is, Invisible Reader, "acceptance" is a very big word.  It's underused, don't you think?  There's a word I hear thrown around when dealing with the Lesbian, Bisexual, Gay & Transgender community that I react to the same way that I react to like nails on a chalkboard.  That word is "tolerance".  Why should we have to "tolerate" anyone?  We cant we just "accept" one another for who we are?  Here is the definition of "tolerance".  Here is the definition of "acceptance".  You decide.  I'll tell you this, Invisible Reader.  Jane is my friend and I'm honored to call her that.  We've been emailing back and forth for several months now.  We've talked on the phone, exchanged ideas, shared thoughts and helped each other (well, she's helped me -- I don't know how much I've helped her) through some rough times.  Jane is, as I've stated before, a Vietnam Veteran and I have such respect for her that I can't put it into words.  Her war may never end, but at least she's won a major battle. 

A few days ago, I received the following email from my friend Jane.  I was in tears as I read it.

Finally. After eleven long years, complaints to the VAOIG, rejections and lies I FINALLY got accepted into Region Ten VA Transgender Vets program and into the Women's Health Program. I'm being scheduled for my first VA MAMMOGRAM!!!!- no small feat in (insert city here & VA Hospital here).  Finally I no longer have to pay for my own Endocrine care, tests or hormones. I got a new doctor, a young woman who ACTUALLY PRAISED ME instead of denigrated me. YESTERDAY- FINALLY I GOT RESPECTED by the doctor and the nursing staff!! FINALLY, in tears of relief, I knew what it FELT LIKE TO BE RESPECTED!!!!
Yesterday was the ending to the blog you wrote about me insofar as my transgender veteran experience. Of course my VA treatment is just beginning but yesterday reversed almost everything. I even called my old Endo at XX Clinic to tell him to close my account there. I paid out several thousand dollars out of pocket for endocrine treatment, doctors office fee's, lab work, parking, gas driving over 160 mile round trips I think 4 times over two years. I got lost twice. I was two hours late once. My fiance's Dad died in that hospital and she hated every visit there but I was screwed until I could get a VA doc to accept me. She (the VA doc) has no idea how much time money and headaches she saved me yesterday. I actually sat in the atrium while waiting for my blood test crying. I don't cry in public in front of anyone for any reason and I couldn't control it yesterday.

So much has changed since Dr X left. I look back now and I realize that old battleax was a lying corrupt old bitch. She picked and chose who she treated or didn't-she was not fair and she lied and the staff knew it. They knew she was running a crooked clinic. OM- how its changed. Crap the Endocrine Clinic isn't a mile back in the old purple hallway even. Its up front on the left side of the atrium as you enter the hospital main lobby and that atrium is about half the size of a football stadium. Its like a huge subway station- thousands of vets there night and day. Endo was hidden. They kept us T vets out of sight. Now we're in full view. Its just amazing at least to me. 
What do you think, Invisible Reader?  Isn't that the most beautiful email you've ever read?  It brought tears to my eyes.  Proof, to me at least, that the VA is finally realizing that transgender Veterans deserve equal treatment and care.  It shows me that this group of Veterans is not to be hidden away in some damn closet or dark corner of the VA Hospital.  It's progress at its finest.

Today I received another email from my friend.  She asked that I post it.  It shows there is still a dark side to all of this.  While the VA Hospital is making strides towards providing care for this group of Veterans, society still has a long way to go before accepting the transgender community.

theres been NO support. I've been alone all these years and I'm still alone in a large sense. Theres no one around-meaning- no other transgender or even just a straight friend or ally. I don't have friends here that'll show up just to sit and have coffee.

There was a couple I used to be fond of, Paul and Judy that I went to church with. Their son is gay and Judy ran her mouth in church in public how she loved me and God loved me. Well, they represented what I always wanted- one of those marriages that was for life. I adored Judy and Paul for that and I told them so.
Judy and Paul met when they were young and they are now well in their 70's. I bought them a gift certificate at a local restaurant because I wanted to enjoy lunch with them. I mailed it to them as a gift with an invite to see a dog art exhibit at the local art museum that summer because Paul always joked that he's a dog in a human body. I waited and waited and never got a call so I called Judy and asked if they'd received the certificate and Judy said "Oh yes thank you so much!" So I said well, when do you and Paul want to meet? She replied that she'd have to wait for Paul to decide. This game went on all summer until I finally came to my senses and realized how two-faced these so-called "Christian" friends really were. They accepted their son because you sometimes can't tell a man is gay or a woman is a lesbian. But a male to female transgender, unless they are built slight and short with a "feminine face" doesn't stand a chance in Hades on a good day. They were refusing to be seen with me in public. Period. It didn't matter that they were being two-faced, insulting me to my face. I'm 6'1". Used to be 6'2." And no I do not have a feminine face and I know it.

Thats the way its been for me here. No friends, no love no support and at the VA as bad or worse- AND I'M NOT SUPPOSED TO GIVE IN OR BE SUICIDAL?? I design my own buttons and wear them in public. Theres one I wear now that says ITS NOT YOUR DAMNED BUSINESS HOW I DRESS!! That button is huge and it catches people staring at me in their hypocrisy. They still stare and I get some nasty hate stares but it says it before they think it.

I'm 56 and in all honesty I am still contemplating suicide. Humans just are not meant to live alone and I have. The only ONLY thing that stops me from that plunge is my girlfriend because if it weren't for her, my life would contain no more light than a crypt. She is my light, my strength and my guide on this dark path and my hope that someday soon we'll be leaving here. No one else- not one single person in this area had the guts to walk with me, be a friend, not care how anyone saw them in public if they held my hand or hugged me; and oh my God yes, I'm a Vietnam veteran and I SO do not behave as I'm expected to. No jungle fatigues, no hat or coat with insignia, no guy buddies (are you serious? They all worry I might stick my dick up their asses.) And certainly no dates with women because in their minds I'm gay and as I got told " We want a MAN!"

I don't know if I wrote this clearly and made my point. I'm too tired at the moment to care and near tears because I'm lonely and I cant text my gf at 5am. I woke up half an hour ago and decided it was really important to fire up the computer and type this out and send it to you. Ohio- northeast ohio I can almost guarantee you will be scorched earth on judgment day if there happens to be one. I know that for a fact.
I leave you, Invisible Reader, with my friends words, heavy as they are, but honest and from the heart.

Until the next time .....

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