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Veteran Question


Hello everybody.  I just recently retired from the military and was wondering if anybody has gone down this path before me and can share their experiences or information?  I have not said anything to anybody and not sure I should.  I am paying for my initial hormone eval. appointment out of pocket to keep it my secret like I did for 20 years. 

I just have so many questions I want to ask to those locally I know, but they have no idea I am transitioning and I don't want to tell them or deal with them knowing (even if I do work with some of them right now).  So in a way I am hoping for a slow transition the first year, and pray because I am 40 it will be more gradual because I only plan to be at this job about 1.5 years before I move on and will try to disguise any changes I can while in the workplace.  I don't know if I should tell the DAV rep. or anybody else so hope somebody can advise me.

Welcome, Jigsaw.  And welcome to the Real World (as we used to say ;)).

I retired after 24 years in the military.  I worked for six years as a contractor to DoD and the USCG.  I did not transition until after that. 

I was a closeted cross-dresser during much of the time I was associated with the military.  The internal pressure to keep that a secret grew and grew and at times was almost intolerable.

I have never dealt with the VA but know that some do.  Their experience is generally good, but it depends on the staff at your office.  I began counseling with much of it on my spouse's insurance.  I began transition at 65 and used Medicare and Tricare For Life to pay for most of my counseling and hormone treatments.  I paid for GRS myself.  I am now almost a year post-op.

I had no trouble changing my name and then presenting myself as Kate at the base to get my ID card changed.  I had no trouble changing my name on the various records.  The only problem I had with any of it was changing my gender with DEERS.  I think, though, that it was someone at the office that I dealt with who was dragging his feet.  It's all straightened out now.

This is a remarkable journey.  I wish you luck.

- Kate

Thanks for the response Kate.  I hated having to hold off for so long just to start the transition.  I told my current counselor that I was not going to wait any longer now I am a veteran and not active duty.  I am at my current job as a between job and in another 1-1.5 years I am moving out of state anyway, so I will just try to stay ahead of the facial hair.  I am tired of holding everything in and at least now most of the hiding is over with.  Once I leave work, I am now able to be me 100% and not have to worry about getting the boot.

I guess the biggest benefit I have right now is I had already changed my name.  I had a break in service and never expected to go back in, so did the name change and again a few years later because I wanted something close to my birth name and I was back in the military.  Luckly, my birth name has a masculine form so went with that and only had to change my middle name.  My military records and ID card are good to go...though the VA and I had a long talk when I finished my last physical with them and was checking out about how my name was wrong in their system and I was not getting mail because of it.  I had not used my birth name in 15 years.  They told me the system used it because of my break in service. UGH!!  I have since that talk recieved new mail in the correct name!  I will be getting my license changed as soon as I start with the shots at the end of the month and not sure if I can get the gender change yet.  God I hope so!  Last thing I want is that one letter being the only thing between me and true happiness since I really need it changed on my passport.

Do you (or anybody else) know if there was a way to have surgery paid for with veterans health insurance?  I am going to collect records from my current therapist and have them submitted as part of my disability claim.  I figure I had to sit in a room with government therapist for 4 hours which was a fun game, I am going to at least make things a bit more complicated then his diagnosis. I managed to make it out of the 4-hour session without saying anything about being FtM.  I just insisted I did not care about relationships and sex, which is kinda true, but I did not want to deal with who I really was that day and have more questions then I wanted to deal with after talking about my parents both passing away.

I don't know about the insurance.  There was some idea I might have been able to get them pay for part of my surgery, but I just didn't want Big Brother getting involved since I could afford it myself.  You might have decent luck getting them to pay for top surgery and a hysto.  Further surgery might be more iffy, but I haven't dealt with them on the issue and went the other direction anyway.

BTW, I got my W2 this year addressed to my old name.  Last year it was my new name.  I called them.  They said when they upgraded their system all the name changes that happened during a certain period fell off the system.  But you were in long enough to know how this stuff happens now and then.

Keep going until you can be you.

- Kate

Thanks Kate.  Going to give it a try at least, worst they can do is say no right? I figure if I am just dealing with the VA, no biggie.  Once I am done with my current job if all goes well, I will see about getting the gender changed through them since I don't plan to get any surgery until next year at least. If all goes well, maybe I can help out others in the same situation.


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