Picking up from where I left off in the last issue (“What is the ‘I’ in LGBTQI?”), here is a little bit more about my life, which is not all that uncommon in the real world, especially where the military was concerned. This is hard for me to write about since I have been trying to move forward with my life, despite the obstacles I now have. Just to let you know, Joney is not my legal name, but it is my real name to me and my friends. Over this, I have learned who are my real friends.
I have always known I have had physical differences from men and woman. I grew up in a mixed world, due to my mother basically raising me a female, only after her death, to be raised as male. Finding out later, I was a deep family secret. Even though my physical differences became more obvious in my teens. The truth was always deflected as something else.
Many people ask me how I even got in the military. When I joined, there was a shortage of enlistees. I scored high on testing, so I was allowed to enter. During arrival at the processing station, others and I were subjected to the turn your head and cough check. There were about 300 of us in a room were a doctor, who was probably in his early 1980s, checked us. I was about the 298th person he would check. Standing there in “tighty whities” and a T-shirt was awkward for me, because I had breast tissue and little-to-no “package” like the other guys in the room. What saved me from being noticed was two of the guys wearing red bikini underwear who drew most of the attention. When the doctor got to me, he didn’t even touch me. So I passed.
During basic training at Fort Jackson, S.C., I was considered a sissy, since I “ran and threw a ball like a girl” according to other platoon members. I also had little to no body hair. Still, I managed to pass basic training. During Advanced Individual Training (AIT), I was barely noticed, since I was in a technical skill. I spent my early career as any other soldier in the U.S. Army, with the exception of working more joint service than others.
During my time as an instructor, I met my wife. She was four years younger than me, but I fell in love. We married about three months after that. She had a son whom I adopted as my own. I must admit, I thought it might cure what ailed me — such as an attraction to the female world. She thought no one would marry her, since she had a child at a young age. Both were wrong reasons for getting married. Still, I thought I loved her and settled into domestic life while being in the military.
A few years later, the greatest event in my life would occur, the birth of my daughter. It was amazing. I wanted to give her the world. During that time, I was caught crossdressing by my wife. She was angry, but said we would work through it, but in the back of my mind, I knew it was over. Due to my beliefs at the time, I did not want a divorce. Still, the strain was there.
While in the service, I started experiencing abdominal pain like I had never experienced before. I was not able to sleep more than a half hour a night. This went on for about six weeks until I finally decided to go to the doctor. While there, my blood pressure was higher but further testing was needed. After an abdominal MRI, the technician abruptly told me to get off the table. I asked her what was wrong and she said nothing and to leave. To date, I have never seen the results of this test, but can only assume why.
Also during this time, my wife and I went to marriage therapy. In my wife’s mind, the therapy was for me, not her. She thought I was a sex addict, even though I really had no interest in sex. During my individual therapy the therapist and I talked about my gender issues. She told my wife it was a small part of my life and not to worry about it. In private she told me I had a gender identity disorder.
At my last duty assignment, this therapy would continue. My wife did not want any part of it. The therapist actually told me, “I usually would not tell anyone this, but you need to divorce her, because she is going to accuse you of something that will destroy your life.” Still, I believe that divorce was not an option. I regret that decision till this day.
Later that year she accused me of touching my daughter. I flipped out, but wanted her tested to make sure she was not molested by someone else. There was no evidence found, but I fell into a deep depression. I didn’t consider suicide, but I didn’t care whether I lived or died. I tried to continue my crossdressing in private, but since I worked third shift and my wife decided to remove my daughter from daycare, where I would have to watch her during the day, I was eventually caught.
My wife evidently called the military police, where I was promptly arrested and accused of molesting my daughter and a friend of hers. I was immediately removed from my home, sent to a mental hospital to prevent suicide and to evaluate me for court martial. Despite being seen in the state of cross-dress, the military threw the book at me. Accusing me of heinous crimes. Later during the trial, I was acquitted of indecent acts, but found guilty of allowing a child to see me cross-dressed. The military court wrote up the conviction in such a confusing way, because it made me look like I was guilty of child molestation, even though I did not touch or try to have sex with anyone. Not that I could at that time, because I had become impotent.
Long story short, my wife is now an ex-wife. I spent a year in minimum security, but worked on computers the whole time I was there. Go figure. I even have to register as a sex offender. Soon after, I found a job, but was only allowed to see my children with a supervisor. During this time, I felt I had nothing to lose in finding out who I really was. I joined a cross-dressing support group. Five minutes after being there, I knew I didn’t really relate to them, but did relate to a transsexual I had met there. Not wholly, but in part.
From this point, I thought and was diagnosed by therapist as a transsexual. Still, I knew something was wrong. I not only felt guilty for who I was, but felt worse because I was again living a lie. For one, my body started changing again, without taking hormones. For one, I hadn’t had a sex drive in years. My genitals, for what they were, were starting to atrophy. Couldn’t even use a cold dip in a pool as an excuse. I started crying at the weirdest things.
One day, I thought I was having a heart attack. I drove myself to the hospital. They determined I was not having a heart attack, but as I was now over 40, more tests were ordered. After several tests, I was found I had a severe hormonal imbalance. A test to determine why found that I had two sets of chromosomes. The problem was one was XX and the other was XY and some damaged chromosomes — hence the diagnosis of an Intersex condition. Later during another MRI, I was told I only had one teste and a malformed ovary. I tried to deny it, since I fathered a child, but learned to accept it over the years.
Looking back at my life, some things made sense now. Why my family kept it a secret. The shots growing up. Why the technician in the Army refused to tell me what was wrong. Why my mother tried to raise me as a girl. Why I had these feelings of being female and male. Still, to this day, I have this darkness hanging over my head.
It has been close to 20 years since I was court martialed. I still have to register as a sex offender, mainly because the registration laws keep changing, especially since politicians use it as a way to make it look like they are doing something. The military destroyed my court records after seven years, and I pay the price for things that people just make up about me, even though they put an embellished appeal document online. Most likely it was written by a court clerk expressing his or her fantas — like stating I was wearing a slip, garter belt, panties, stockings and spiked heels. Really? Note, the court never brought up what I wore, which was a thrift store dress.
During that time, to be accused meant a conviction. Surprisingly, some of my worst detractors are from the GLBT community, despite being assumed sex offenders just for being Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, or Transgender by people. Ironically, I can go out dressed as a woman and be seen by children, but it is not against the law. In the military at the time, if was considered a sex crime.
Will I ever see justice and be taken off the sex offender list? I doubt it. Since a politician will get the law changed just before I try to get off it. I could move to another state, but the same thing usually happens there. Also, I legally cannot change my name while on the list, so total transition is out, even though I am called ma’am, even when I am not trying.
Still I hope some good comes out of this. The military now allows transgender people to serve. I have a relationship with my married children. I have not had that much trouble getting jobs, but I am unemployed now. So I am looking. Someday I may get off the list and finally transition to my true self, but I can only hope. Note, I don’t hold anything against anyone in the military. I appreciate their service to our country. I do not like the policies that kicked me to the curb for being a gender variant, but hopefully that will change too. If not for me, someone else.