Recently, I received one of the oddest Tumblr Anonymous messages I’ve received in a while. It wasn’t necessarily brutal, nor was it anything I haven’t heard in varying forms before, but it said: “Okay. You’ve had your 15 minutes of fame. Time to give up the crusade and return to the real world.”
And I wasn’t going to say anything about it, right? It was anonymous - the person wasn’t even brave enough to show me any identity, just some random troll. No big deal. I’ve heard worse. But then some things happened today and I want to talk about it.
I sat in the back of a room of people at a conference, and once I looked around, I saw more than a handful of individuals in uniform. The panel was “Opportunity and Diversity in the US Armed Forces” and they were, when I walked in, talking about transgender service - on how to be a fully inclusive military. There were two JAG Officers speaking - a Navy Lieutenant Commander and an Air Force Captain, a former Army medic who now does big time EEOC work in the civilian side, and a former Naval Surface Warfare Officer who now does both nursing and practices law (and happens to be transgender).
I braced myself, knowing that for the first time since March, I was surrounded by military individuals who probably have seen their fair share of transgender service members files…but the conversation was positive. It was “How can we get this changed? What can we do to help our military? How do we make this a safer place for our soldiers, sailors, Marines, and airmen?”
I say all of this in response to the above ignorance because this isn’t my crusade. Would it be easier if it were just me striking out alone and I was the only person who cared about this issue? In some ways, yeah. Because then I would know there weren’t hundreds of thousands of transgender veterans who feel the same way I do right now. I would know that there aren’t 15,000 actively serving transgender service members who feel the same way I felt. But mostly, I am thrilled I’m not the only one because this is an issue that requires all hands on deck to get it changed. This is an issue that requires people to get angry. To get emotional. To get all sorts of fired up about it.
And we do.
There are definitely days where it gets hard. It gets damn hard to have to rehash this experience over and over and over again. It gets hard sometimes to even be reminded that I’m transgender. To be reminded that because I am transgender, it cost me everything I had worked for. Sometimes, I forget why I do this at all.
And then a Surface Warfare Officer who left the service long before her time should have been up, to begin to truly pursue the meaning of the values we still live by - honor, courage, and commitment - gives me her Officer’s crest.
And I am reminded of why I do this.
The military trains us to fight - all different kinds of battles…and crusades, if you will.
You damn well better believe we’re going to do what we were trained to do.