Wednesday, 10 June 2009

Today's Battle

At the Memphis Commercial Appeal:
Darlene, 58, gingerly climbed the stairs to use the bathroom, past a framed box of ribbons and medals, military honors presented to David, the man she used to be.

Two years ago, David, a retired Air National Guard Lieutenant Colonel who served as a navigator and fighter pilot, told his wife, Mary, something he'd kept inside all his life. He was a woman in a man's body.

It tore through their 37-year marriage like shrapnel, and formed a chasm so wide between Darlene and her son that the young man now considers his father dead. They haven't spoken in two years. Darlene is forbidden from seeing her two grandsons.

Ask about the pain of thousands of plucks of electrolysis to remove hair, facial feminization surgery, breast augmentation and finally genital reassignment surgery, and Darlene explains professionally like an officer.

Mention her grandchildren or the pain she caused her wife and son, and tears stream down like rain.
Some of the less supportive comments needed answering. So I did.
Posted by ZoeBrain on June 7, 2009 at 8:58 a.m.

Darlene isn't the only former fighter pilot I know who has transitioned. Officially, the USAF didn't have female pilots in combat in Gulf War I, but in fact, they did. They just looked male at the time.

Transsexuality is devastating, not just to the immediate victim, but the family too. Still, so are many other congenital conditions. So is Cancer. Though many cancers have a lower mortality rate without treatment. And cancer victims are not routinely persecuted as morally corrupt because of their condition.

There'll be some who won't believe it's a congenital medical condition, but a "lifestyle choice". The evidence of brain scans and autopsies says otherwise, as do some rather more simple tests. As Professor Ecker MD said in a recent presentation to the APA on the subject:

"We showed how Transgender Brains think, smell, and hear like the opposite sex."

And the MRI images and so on show why this is so. All the claims about "female brain in male body" turn out to be literally true. It's an intersex condition, like hundreds of others, where the body is neither wholly male nor wholly female.

See seminar s10 at the APA annual meeting:
S10. The Neurobiological Evidence for Transgenderism

1. Brain Gender Identity Prof. Sidney W. Ecker, M.D.
2. Transsexuality as an Intersex Condition Prof Milton Diamond, Ph.D.
3. Novel Approaches to Endocrine Treatment of Transgender Adolescents and Adults Norman Spack, M.D.

Lots of people commenting on this article are saying it's a waste of space, time etc. for such a minority. But they'd never dream of doing that for, say, Multiple Sclerosis - a condition that's not as common, and is arguably no more devastating to the sufferer and their family.

No preacher would rail against people with MS as having a morally corrupt lifestyle, and saying that they should be banned from employment by all God-fearing folk. And people with MS are not murdered at a rate 17 times greater than in the average population, nor have 6 women been shot in the head in Memphis in the last 2 years just for having MS. Police don't beat up people just for having MS, and no trial for murder has ended in acquittal because the defendant claimed that he didn't know the victim had MS, and when he found out, he just snapped.

Treatment for MS is not routinely excluded from health insurance policies. Neither is it specifically excluded in the Americans with Disabilities Act, nor from treatment offered by the VA for veterans.

So yes, I think this article is worthwhile. I'm also encouraged to see how relatively few comments there have been calling for a public lynching of the victim. The word is getting out there, slowly, and articles like this help inform the public.

And in return received an honour I will always cherish.
Posted by Darlene on June 7, 2009 at 5:49 p.m.

in response to ZoeBrain

Thank you.
Thank You, Darlene. For your courage and your service to us all. Of course, being an EWO in an F4 requires some courage too, and you served your nation then as well.


MW said...

that's interesting

Anonymous said...

What a sad story. I hope Darlene and her family can work it out somehow, but I'm not sure I see how. Zoe, how did your marriage survive? And if this isn't an offensive question, what do you consider a proper term for the current relationship between you and the woman who was your wife when your name was Alan? She can't really be called your wife anymore, can she? I hope I'm not being offensive or overly personal.

Thank you for educating me, Zoe, about everything.

- Sympathetic outsider

Zoe Brain said...

S.O. - how did my marriage survive? Good question.

We love each other.

I really can't explain it better than that. We're both straight, our relationship is chaste.

They would walk down the street in the evening,
And for years I would see them go by.
And their love that was more than the clothes that they wore,
Could be seen in the gleam of their eye.

As a kid they would take me for candy,
And I loved to go tagging along.
We’d hold hands while we walked to the corner,
And the old man would sing her his song:

"I'll give you a daisy a day, dear.
I'll give you a daisy a day.
I'll love you until the rivers run still
And the four winds we know blow away."

Some things transcend even one partner changing apparent sex.

We also made a child together, a little boy, who is our whole world. He needs two parents - though they need not be different sexes. He loves us both, and wants us to be together as much as we want to stay together.

In practical terms, we should really split. Neither of us can bring ourselves to do that though.

Legally, we're still married. But she's not my wife, nor I hers. She is the love of my life though, and always will be. She's my partner.

I still can't improve on the short answer though:

We love each other.

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