Nobody ever said life was easy, and here I am jumping right into Nightmare Mode.
My name is Valerie. I am an aircraft maintainer in the US Air Force, and I’m a Pre-Transition MtF Transgender. I’d have to say that my career field is one of the most transphobic of them all, and here I am about to be the first transgender Airman that any of my coworkers will have ever seen. I started this blog to chronicle my adventures and struggles, both on and off-duty.
As you may or may not know, the ban on transgender service-members in the US military was officially lifted on June 30th, 2016. Before this, coming out to your leadership was usually grounds for discharge. The first step in the right direction was Gender Identity Disorder being relabeled as Gender Dysphoria, removing the “disorder” portion, which is actually a pretty big deal. Disorders get you discharged, and many of us really enjoy our job security. The individual branches have begun releasing their handbooks with information on how to handle and educate the force when it comes to all things trans. Like it or not, guys and girls, there’s actually a pretty significant population of transgendered persons in the military, and we’ll be more common than you may think.
Backstory time! As with most, from a young age I could tell that something wasn’t quite right when it came to my gender. I wont claim to know as early as some, but around 14 I had started to question what it’d be like to be female, and the thought excited me. What would my life be like? How would I look? Would I like the same things, or would I be a different person? Who would my friends have been? I discovered very quickly that I was extremely fascinated by the prospect of living my life as a female. This quickly turned into body swap fantasies and things of that sort. Wouldn’t it be cool to just magically trade bodies with someone for a day, week, or hell, the rest of your life? This was on my mind a lot all through high school, and I had largely shrugged it off as some sort of weird coping mechanism for not having ever had a relationship. I’m not afraid to admit, I didn’t have my first girlfriend until I was 18. After that, though, I began to realize that I wasn’t coping with anything, I was actually different. College was a wild time of experimenting with cross-dressing, long hair, makeup, and other things that should have been so wrong, but were extremely enjoyable. I’ll spare you the more embarrassing details, but I was really falling in love with the idea of changing myself. Funds soon dwindled and I dropped out of college. The economy was in bad shape, and jobs were scarce, so I used my backup plan of joining the Air Force. I’ve always been relatively patriotic, so it seemed like something that may happen eventually anyway. Sometimes we take risks.
So, where does that leave me in the present? I’m nearly 4 years into my 6 year enlistment, still on the fence about continuing. I’m about to enter a supervisory role, as I was just selected for promotion. I’m currently deployed, and the timing of the ban being lifted was so terrible that I need to wait another few months before I can really get the ball rolling. This is the main issue I’m facing, and it’s one I’ve been struggling with for a long while: WAITING. It has been excruciatingly painful sitting in such a testosterone-fueled environment with everyone trying to drag me to the gym to “get big” like the rest of the supplement shoveling gym rats. Something changed yesterday, though. I went out on a limb and sent an email to mental health to see if I can do ANYTHING to start this process. I’ve generally been told they can’t support a transition here, as the medical facility isn’t equipped for such a thing, but finally I got a reply that nearly had me jump out of my chair in excitement. I may not be able to start hormones here, but I can at least get an official diagnosis on my record, and that will do wonders to speed up the process when I get home. It’s a few weeks until then, so it’s time to keep my head up and push forward.
As for the blog, I’m still trying to gather ideas in my head when it comes to subject matter, and it may be a while before I can start posting some real transition-related material. Expect some travel-related posts when I return home, and general thoughts and updates about being closeted in a transphobic environment. If anyone ever ends up reading this thing, I’d very much love to answer some questions, or help out anyone else in a similar situation. We’re all so new at this, and it can be really scary sometimes.
“C’mon, shape shift with me. What have you got to lose? Fuck it” – “Norse Truth” by Against Me!