Conquering the World
MAJOR, US Army, Ret.
American Veterans Association
Underneath my cover, I walk a straight line,
returning salutes as I pass. A sergeant salutes
and says, “Good morning, Sir.”
A warm glow flushes my cheeks, and I reply,
“Good morning!” Closer to work a familiar face
draws near and salutes; “Good morning, Ma’am.” A
heavy feeling of discontent weighs on me, and I
return the salute with the grudging reply, “Good
I am a transgender
Outside of work, I live
my life as a man. Once
on post, I am female. My
short hair and manly
features present an
I grew up in
Arkansas, and knew that
many outsiders perceived
women there as “barefoot
and pregnant” rednecks.
That stereotype drove me
to move out of the state
and join the Army. I
wanted to be on an equal
footing with men. I
found new confidence
along the way as my
drive to exceed
expectations helped me
rise through the ranks.
Yet, I always had the
feeling of being a
second class soldier
because of my gender.
Males have confidence
ingrained in them at an
early age. Men are
encouraged to stand up
for themselves and speak
their mind. When they
don’t, they are often
labeled effeminate or
called derogatory terms
such as faggot or
role is enforced by men
as well as women.
this commentary contains fowl grumpy veterans'
language intended for adult eyes only.
Recently, an American veteran of
combat in Afghanistan
wrote an op-ed, in a major big city newspaper, about why
he really doesn't want folks to upset him by saying, "thank you for
serving." OK, well, he's earned the right to be a disgruntled vet
and say whatever the hell he wants, right? He explains at great
length 'why' the "thank you" thing annoys him so much. He says
that those who feel moved to thank him 'weren't there, they have no idea
what it was like, they didn't pull the trigger, they weren't trapped and
besieged in an isolated place far from home, nearly out of ammunition,
with several of his friends dead or dying... .' 'They didn't
serve, nor did their children,' he noted, and he somehow gets the feeling
that they are just trying to make themselves feel better about it, and -
and, well, it just pisses him off.
I understand where he's coming
from, but I don't agree with him. Additionally, in passing, he noted that
Vietnam vets got spit on for their service, rather than being thanked,
and that 'at least they were getting an opinion,' which he sees as
better than mindless thanks. I think that a lot of Vietnam vets
would aggressively differ with his opinion! What the hell does he
know about what went on forty years ago?! Vietnam vets didn't come
home looking for thanks; they weren't idiots; but they didn't appreciate
being spit on and cursed at.