SPART*A Impacts

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SPART*A is about family

When I was in Afghanistan 5 years ago, this new group started in secret. It was called OutServe. As OS grew and the need for localized chapters emerged, there was a call for those that identified as transgender. I was barely out to myself much less anyone else. I reached out. I became member #2. Over the next few years as people began to be more open about themselves, eventually this little group became SPART*A Trans. And now we are almost 400 strong. Whether I was in Afghanistan, underwater on the submarine, dealing with my family, dealing with work, there was always someone willing to listen. Someone willing to take the time to help me through dark times. Someone to challenge me to grow into a better person. Someone to challenge my notions of what it means to be transgender. That place is SPART*A. SPART*A is the family I needed to become the man I am today. What impact has SPART*A had on your life?
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A Lifelong Dream of Commitment

I am not and have never been in the US military, but I have had a lifelong dream of serving. When I started high school I knew I wanted to become an officer someday but my parents wouldn’t allow me to participate in JROTC. I went to college in 2009. I was already struggling with the idea of being forced to serve in hiding, as if being transgender was a bad thing or something I should be ashamed of. I considered the possibility of ROTC, and at the end of my freshman year I saw news that DADT was going to be repealed.

I knew that going forward I would be living my life as the man I knew myself to be. I was urged by my professors at college to start transitioning ASAP so that I could network with the name and identity people would know once I entered the professional world. I contacted an organization that helped LGBT service members and was advised to transition first and THEN join. So I began my transition during the fall of 2010, a few months before DADT was repealed, under the impression that it would be less complicated for me to join as my authentic self rather than transitioning after I had already joined.

And then I found out that transgender people had been left out of the repeal. I was devastated. I contacted a couple of recruiters anyway, just to see if I could go through a waiver process. As soon as I mentioned that I was transgender they never contacted me again, even though I tried multiple times to get a response, or some indication of whether or not I even COULD get a waiver for being trans.

Until it was announced this year that officials are reviewing the policy, I thought military service was most likely a lost dream for me. At best I thought it was a dream unlikely to come about in the next decade. I can’t express how excited I am that it could be a possibility for me as soon as next year! I’ve already discussed military service at length with my life partner, and have decided that as soon as the ban is lifted I will be visiting a recruiter's office.

My biggest reservation is that I have not been able to pursue surgery because no health insurance I have ever had offers affordable coverage. At this point I have been living as my authentic male self since 2010, and have been on hormones for 5 years, and all of my transition-related medical care has been paid for out of pocket. I don’t want to enter the military and be classified as female just because surgery is elusive and prohibitively expensive for me, and because in the state where I was born I can’t change my gender marker without surgery. I have changed my name, and switched my gender marker to male on my Passport, at Social Security, and with all other agencies where that has been an option. Because I got my driver’s license after I got my Passport changed, I’ve even been registered for Selective Service in the state where I went to college and have lived since graduation. The only document I haven’t been able to get changed is my birth certificate and that’s because of state laws, not federal ones.

I have to wonder, as they review this policy and the ramifications of changing it, is any consideration being given regarding what documents can be used to establish gender? What about folks from states like Tennessee, who cannot get their gender marker on their birth certificate changed, even after surgery? And what about folks who won’t get genital reconstruction while in the military? Will those of us who are pre-genital reconstruction still have access to normal preventative care like OBGYN visits? Will we be told to try to enlist or commission only AFTER we have been able to have surgery of some kind? I take my health very seriously, and I know the military would too. I want to do things right the first time, if that is at all possible.

To the folks who are serving right now, both those who have come out publicly and those who are still serving in silence: you all have my abiding respect and admiration. I truly wish you all success and happiness.

Best Regards,

Sam R.

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Step Forward

I am not, nor have I ever been in the Military or any form of it. However, if this ban is lifted, you best believe I will be joining. And statistics show that many others will as well.

Ashton Carter has stated the ban to be outdated, which is completely true. And I whole heartedly hope that the Department of Defenses' decision is the right one.

I mean it's a win/ win situation if they allow us to get in the military. For one, America can get more people to serve in the Military (be it Army, Navy, Air Force, Coast Guard, National Guard), and the individual who wants to enlist, can do something that they want to do. They can do something good with their lives.


As far as the arguments against us serving, there are options.

"Where will they be housed?" In barracks/ sleeping quarters of their identified gender MtF in females sleeping quarters, and FtM in Males. If they are worried about anything, create some sort of "in transition" sleeping quarters or something.

Uniforms? Well again if I am female in my heart, mind and soul (unfortunately not physically) I still DONT want to wear a mens uniform. I am MtF, so I would wear a women's uniform. FtM is likely going to want to wear a mens uniform, not women's. 

Health Coverage? We already have Transgender Care which covers hormones, and nessecary surgery. Extend the same benefits into Military Health Coverage. I mean cosmetic stuff, like bodily feminization (we are talking facial reconstruction, tracheal shave, and stuff like that). I say no. But if they decide that bodily feminization surgery would be covered, I wouldn't argue. 
I am talking like bottom reconstruction the actual Gender Reassignment, like other insurance plans, should be covered.

The choice is simple for the Department of Defense. They should allow us who are able and willing… willing to dedicate our time, service and even our lives to serve. It is time to step forward!

Because underneath everything, we are just the same, with one common goal… one common wish which is to serve our country  

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Defining transgender medical care in the military

As we watch the transgender service bans crumble, it’s time to think about some more steps. One issue is transgender medical care. When one SPARTA member publically transitioned at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center a few weeks ago, she set in motion some behind the scenes changes that we should all be aware of and seek to control.

A friend is a senior psychiatric nurse at Walter Reed. After Jamie’s very public transition, she was told by her general to create a transgender care practice at Walter Reed. She reached out to me. I initially gave her a copy of “Trans Bodies Trans Selves”, the WPATH standards of care, and a few other documents.

I’m meeting with her on Sunday July 5th to further define care. I will be joined by Shannon Murphy, a Navy veteran and CTO for health care at a major multi-national firm.

I expect them to want to provide counseling and hormones. I will argue for a much broader suite of care including primary and secondary sexual gender characteristics.  I work for IBM now, for male to female transition they cover primary, secondary, facial feminization, and body sculpting. But my former company covered trachea shave, breasts, gender reassignment, hormones and counseling. This type of coverage is much more prevalent. I’m using MtF as an example. I’ll also argue for appropriate FtM coverage.

I expect a little bit of push back here. Do you think primary and secondary characteristics is enough? Should I argue for more? Face work? Body sculpting? Hair removal or transplants (even very progressive plans don’t cover this).

 I will be reaching out to members for help on this issue. I believe that what we define at Walter Reed could become the standards across the military. 

Constance Rice USMC ’77-‘81

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Trans Service!

Most of the LGBT focus in the immediate future should be on repealing the Trans ban! We are honorable service members with a long and untenable history of having to hide. Allowing us to be who we are in uniform will only make the US Military forces stronger!
That said, I am willing to do whatever it takes to make this happen!

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Meeting of the Minds

As part of our efforts to reach out and include our members we have established a few members only pages here on our website. Most of these pages are designed to allow you, the members, to interact with one another and with the SPART*A leadership in an environment that is more member oriented than a Facebook forum. Here you can post things that pertain to you, and discuss how being LGBT has impacted you. Your fellow users will be able to respond, allowing for conversations about a variety of issues right here on spartapride.org. No one except verified/vetted members and SPART*A staff will see your posts, so please let your hair down and converse with your fellow SPART*Ans!

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