The Government Sucks

Angry Gamer GirlIt’s been a bit thanks to finals and broken laptop, but there is a bright side. First, all of my finals save one are done, which I will be taking on Monday. Second, the part to fix my laptop should be arriving today or tomorrow, so I should be able to fix it (I hope). That said, I plan on getting in three posts this week: one today, one tomorrow, and one Friday. We’ll see if I manage to pull it off.

Anyways, today after my final, I stopped at the local tax commissioner’s office to change my vehicle title and registration over from Georgia to Texas. While there, the woman helping me started out by calling me Ma’am, recognizing my presentation as female. However, during the course of asking how my being a vet affected the fees (it dropped the plate fee and let me get a custom veteran plate), I had to show her my DD-214, otherwise known as my separation paperwork. After she saw this and my name change paperwork, she changed to calling me Sir, though she did apologize for it when I corrected her. I bring this story up for a reason. Continue reading

Back to Writing, and a Reader Question

Miss AmericaIt’s been nearly a year since I last wrote here. It’s been a BUSY year. I had two jobs for a time, took a nasty fall off a ladder and got a concussion, adopted three cats, had two busy semesters of school, got into a major car accident, and moved to Georgia to avoid homelessness in Texas. I actually just arrived down here yesterday and am still getting settled in. I’ve also been working on putting a podcast together where I discuss all kinds of topics about sexuality, gender, and kink. It has its own blog, which will include stories as well as scripts for the episodes, and can be found over here.

However, the reason I’m back so soon after moving, and posting on a Sunday no less, is that I got a reader question. Cyrsti writes:

Hi Caitlin, just caught up with your blog and linked it to mine. I too am a trans vet and under VA care. Have you seen the survey the VA is sending around? Thanks Cyrsti 🙂

I have not seen this survey, but it wouldn’t surprise me that one is going around. I’ve seen a number of such surveys in the past, and in fact helped Laura Kiewicz try and improve transgender health care at the Dallas VA a while back via a meeting with many heads of the various hospital departments. I didn’t think it went that well at the time, but apparently, Laura got some kind of department going there, or at least a team to work on it. Is it the VA as a whole, or just your local one? Having just moved, I’m about halfway between two of them (one in Atlanta and one in Marietta), so I have to decide which to go with and so on. That’s on my list along with finding a job, transferring schools, and more. So hopefully, when I do get settled, I can get some decent care.

Speaking of, another thing that’s been happening over the past couple months is an effective hold on my physical transition, courtesy of the VA. This is because it turns out that there is a rare genetic disorder that runs in my family which leads to increased risk of early onset breast cancer. Until there is confirmation that I did not inherit this disorder, I’ve been taken off of estrogen and progesterone, lest they increase the risk. That was about 7-8 weeks ago, and though I’ve since had the blood work drawn for the test (about a month ago), the lab has still not even begun to test the blood due to a conflict of not having received payment confirmation from the VA. Needless to say, the VA is aware that I’m not too happy with them or their level of care. So, no survey for me.

An Open Letter to Congressional Republicans, From a Queer Vet

Dear Congressional Republicans,

My name is Caitlin Fairchild, and I’m an Air Force veteran and a college student. I served for seven years active duty with two tours under Operation Enduring Freedom, one of which actually on the ground in Afghanistan being shot at. I am a woman combat vet, a lesbian, and a transgender woman, having separated before the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, the ban on women in combat, and the Defense of Marriage Act. I’m telling you all of this to tell you that even with those policies intact (and the still existing ban on transgender service members), there have always been gay and transgender service members as well as women in combat.
All of this is to say that for all of your rhetoric of supporting our troops, you have been in many ways more of an obstructionist force for not only the soldiers, sailors, airmen, and marines in service, but the veterans who are out now. This applies not only in your voting on issues that deal directly with military matters, but in how you handle the nation as a whole in ways that affect us as well. Let me begin with some older examples and work my way forward.

Transgender Service A few years ago, when I was getting near the end of my enlistment, I had a sit down talk with my First Sergeant, and he asked me some questions about what I wanted to do with myself. We discussed it, and while it came out that I loved the missions I did, he remarked that I didn’t seem happy in the Air Force. While Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell was being repealed, as a transgender individual, it would not affect me, so I couldn’t very well tell him that it was more a matter that the Air Force didn’t want me.

He and I discussed it as much as we could, and I was forced to decide between continuing with a job that I loved, or separating and being true to myself, finally being happy for the first time in my life. While many of you and the members of your party were fighting to keep the policy in place, you were fighting to keep thousands of veterans like me in a situation where we were forced to have to make decisions like that. It affected our daily lives, and that included our job performance.

Around that same time, we were having the debt ceiling crisis of 2011. We were all being told that as essential personnel, if the government shutdown did occur, we would still be reporting to duty. However, if this shutdown occurred, it would be likely that we would not be receiving pay for however long the shutdown went on, and for possibly longer until the fiscal situation in Washington had been settled and trickled down through all channels. This crisis was caused by members of your party refusing to raise the debt ceiling, instead wanting to cut the budget.

Looking to more recent examples over the battle over marriage and the Defense of Marriage Act, you have again been target gay and lesbian service members, denying their spouses the same benefits of heterosexual partners, and trying to deny them recognition. There is a lot of argument from you about the “sanctity” of marriage. I would like to point out that the definition of sanctity is “holiness, saintliness, godliness.” In other words, it is a religious term. The first amendment to the Constitution states “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof,” prohibiting you from bringing religion into legislative matters.

As much as many of you like to tell us that this is a Christian nation, founded on Christian principles, most of our founding fathers were actually Deists, who rejected all forms of religious dogma. Thomas Jefferson is famous (or infamous) for having literally cut out all mentions of miracles from a copy of the New Testament and retitled it The Life and Morals of Jesus of Nazareth. Stop bringing religion into matters of marriage, economics, and the military.

gop-cry-babyMy final example I will give though is the recent shutdown of the government. You have all thrown what is the equivalent of a toddler’s tantrum over the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, more commonly known as Obamacare. You had your chance to sit down and discuss it, to work out a compromise. When it passed both the House and the Senate and went to the President and became signed, it became a law. When the Supreme Court ruled that it was not unconstitutional, that should have been it. You all have a duty as legislators to uphold the law of the land, not hold the nation ransom because you didn’t get your way.

Your decision to shut down the government has not only affected the 800,000 federal employees who were deemed “non-essential” and are now furloughed and out of work until you get your way, but also the many veterans like myself who are currently attending school using G.I. Bill benefits. Some of us received our monthly housing allowance on this Tuesday, October 1st when the shutdown hit. Others did not. We’re already being told that this may affect our benefits in November.

Maybe I expect too much here however. I mean, I am addressing the party that had a presidential nominee who alleged that healthcare will kill people (Rep. Bachmann/MN), another presidential nominee who wanted to violate article VI of the Constitution and require a special loyalty oath for all Muslim members of office (Herman Cain), and the man who thinks that putting 800,000 people out of work, embarrassing the nation in front of the world, and endangering our economic rating is his idea of fun (Rep. Schweikert/AZ). Not to mention the video and hot mic incident with Mitch McConnell and Rand Paul being caught saying “I think we’ll win this one” and being surprised at Democrats not wanting to negotiate this whole thing being a law already.

Ladies, gentlemen, you’ve let this go on long enough. It’s a law. Quit trying to hold our nation ransom because you lost. Try to be decent human beings. Try to show that you don’t have to be extremists to be conservatives. I was born during the first term of Ronald Reagan, and I know how much the Republican Party looks up to him, idolizing him as a great leader of the party. He would not be elected in today’s GOP. The thing that was great about Reagan was that he wasn’t afraid to actually reach across the aisle and work with his opponents. Nor was he afraid of letting the Federal government have power in the right places. He was a proponent of states’ rights, but he knew that there were times when the Federal government needed to have power too. Let this be one of those times, and pick your battles. Quit saying you support our troops while actively harming them with your every action.

Sincerely,
Caitlin Fairchild

Transgender Round Table Discussion at the VA

Transgender ServiceThis morning, I attended a round table discussion at the Dallas VA hospital about how to improve VA service for trans vets locally. At this discussion were the director and assistant director of the hospital, as well as most of the other leading staff members there (we were just missing the head of nursing). I was one of three transgender vets there speaking of what VA service is like for us. The other two members of the panel are also VA employees, and one of them is the one who put together this meeting as part of her push to create a transgender health center there.

I’ve spoken to you all before of some of my horror stories with the VA, and initially it seemed that the audience was receptive, even shocked at how badly mistreated I’ve been. They promised to review the proposal for the trans health center and to try and improve things. However, there were a number of things that occurred during the meeting that bothered me, and leave me in such a position as to not expect much to come from this. Continue reading

Anger at the VA

Angry Gamer GirlToday I don’t have much to talk about, as I’m busy dealing with the VA. The problems I have are a mix of ones that transgender people face with all medical providers, such as trying to get our transitional costs covered and trying to be recognized as our true gender, as well as problems that are unique to the VA, such as deciding to charge me for an entire year’s worth of health care coverage all at once after telling me that as a combat vet, I have full coverage for five years after service. I’ve already spoken to the issues of being trans and dealing with the medical community, so I won’t repeat myself here. Instead, have a picture of a baby sleeping curled up with a trio of bulldog puppies. Have a good weekend all, and I’ll be back Tuesday.

D’awwwww!

Marriage Equality, Chick-Fil-A, and Trans Rights

There’s a lot going on in the news the last few days so this one is gonna be a bit long.

A little over a week ago, the Jim Henson Company posted a statement on their Facebook page (which you can read in the photo to the left) basically stating that they will no longer work with Chick-Fil-A due to said companies views on homosexuality and marriage equality (or gay marriage, or same sex marriage, or same gender marriage, there’s always some other term for it). Ever since then, there’s been an uproar of photos made supporting the decision made and attacking Chick-Fil-A. The thing is, Chick-Fil-A being homophobic isn’t new, but they’re basically only now admitting to it. In the past, they’ve made donations to various religious groups that are listed as homophobic hate groups by the Southern Poverty Law Center. Last week, they finally came out and said that they believe in marriage as one man and one woman. Continue reading

Military Service and Trying to Be a Man

A reader asks, “why did you go into the military? Did you want to make a man of yourself? If so, why?”

This is a two part question (three parts really), so I’ll address all three in turn.  First, the reason I joined the military is nothing so interesting, nor so noble as to fight for the American Dream.  That’s not to say that I’m not patriotic, I’m just not the female Captain America.  When I was in basic training, one of our first nights when they got all of the new flights together for orientation, they ended it with a video of various military weapons systems (helicopters, missile sites, tanks, destroyers, etc) doing a show of force (i.e. firing off all their weapons, chaff, etc at one time) with the song “God Bless the U.S.A.”playing, and I cried patriotic tears watching that.  I got made fun of by all the guys in my flight for a week because of those tears, but I was still proud of them.  That said, no, I’m not so patriotic that I joined for that reason, nor was it an attempt to be a man.  I was out and taking part in activism back in high school, starting with my junior year.

Continue reading