Sometimes I get that “It’s about me.’ Not even because something really is about me, but because folk want to make it about me.
Over at the blog Gender Reality; It’s not about the clothes they have a post entitled Stop both enginesâ€¦. It apparently is an ad hominem post by one of the bloggers at that blogsite — just a bit earlier in the week, another blogger at the blogsite posted another ad hominem piece entitled Autumn Sandeen â€“ youâ€™re a dick.
Well anywho, the Stop both enginesâ€¦ post is about me wearing a military uniform consistent with my gender identity. The photos on the site are three years old, but only now is when the writer of that post is objecting to my wearing of female U.S. Navy uniform.
And here’s part of the writer’s argument against me wearing a uniform consistent with my female gender identity:
Weâ€™re having a bit of a dilemma here, and for a change, it is all about the clothes. You see, some people have suggested that Sandeen is treating the female naval uniform as a costume. Others are not so charitable.
The thing is, when you look at the pictures of Sandeen, you might get the impression that she served in, and retired from the US Navy as a female.
She never wore the female uniform. She bought it after she retired from a navy that would have kicked her out for being transsexual. It getâ€™s worse, as she deliberately wore the very same uniform when she chained herself to the White House fence, knowing full well that she would be arrested and processed as a transsexual.
…Be proud of your service â€“ thatâ€™s fine and admirable, but quit wearing that uniform as a costume â€“ Autumn Sandeen never wore a female uniform while servingâ€¦
In the comment thread, the blog author of the piece responded to commenter in the comment thread who wrote “The military does not recognize her as female. Neither does the State of California. Sheâ€™s playing dress up.” by writing:
To be fair to Sandeen, if she managed to get her birth certificate changed weâ€™ll apologize to her for the error. Ifâ€¦
The responses are personal, even though I have no idea who the blog author or the thread commenter are.
A retired, U.S. Navy Chief wrote a comment though that I thought needed a response. First, the Chief’s comment:
Common sense and dignity govern when and where a military retiree can wear a uniform. For formal occasions, retirees and veterans can wear the current uniform or the last one worn on active duty. A local commander can authorize the wearing of other uniforms. Wearing a uniform is forbidden for business or personal gain or while participating in an event that may cast the military in an unfavorable light.
Regardless of her motives, Sandeen violated 10 USC CHAPTER 45 by wearing that costume. That was not brave, it was grandstanding to draw attention to herself, gather more fame and a lame attempt to increase her â€˜credibilityâ€™ as a trans crusader. The only reason that she was not remanded by federal authorities was that they had the common sense not to provide her with a free venue and the attendant publicity where she could whine and cry about being persecuted for being transgender, as opposed to be hauled up on the carpet for breaking the law and code of uniform justice.
And here’s how I responded to the chief:
The actual violation I engaged in by wearing a Navy uniform to protest against Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell is found in the U.S. Navy’s Uniform Regulations, specifically found in Chapter 6, Section 10. The relevant paragraph in the section states:
“Retired personnel are prohibited from wearing the uniform in connection with personal enterprises, business activities, or while attending or participating in any demonstration, assembly or activity for the purpose of furthering personal or partisan views on political, social, economic, or religious issues.”
The violation of that regulation made my two 2010 protests Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ) offenses — specifically Article 92 offenses for which I could have been court martialed. The maximum punishment for an Article 92 offense includes 2-years confinement and a dishonorable discharge.
It would have taken a lot of effort on the U.S. Navy’s part to reactivate me, charge me under Article 92, and then prosecute me for what many perceive to be a relatively minor offence. However, if the U.S. Navy had decided to take that tact back in 2010, and I’d have been found guilty of one or more Article 92 offences at court martial, then there was a possibility that I could’ve lost my retirement pay and benefits under the Hiss Act. The Hiss act is codified under 5 USC Chapter 83, Subchapter II – FORFEITURE OF ANNUITIES AND RETIRED PAY, and loss of retirement pay and benefits for the on if the offence of wearing a uniform to protest against Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell would have depended on whether the offense rose to the level outlined in Â§ 8312 – Conviction of certain offenses. Frankly, I’m not an attorney — I’m just not sure.
When I chose to join with GetEqual to protest Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell (DADT) with a number of uniformed lesbian and gay veterans, I had two reasons for protesting. The first is that DADT was wrong and needed to be challenged. Secondly, I wanted to send a message to lesbian, gay, bisexual, and trans (LGBT) community members that for me, if an issue is an issue for even one subcommunity of the LGBT community, then it’s my issue — my hope was, and still is, that lesbian, gay, and bisexual people would in turn work on trans issues with the same intensity that I worked on a purely LGB issue.
My broader point was, and still is, that civil rights aren’t about you or about me, or about yours or my demographics. Instead, civil rights are about us — all of us. Civil rights are human rights, and we’re at our human best when we embrace fighting for the ordinary equality of all of us. I believe we haven’t started living until we can rise above the narrow confines of our individualistic concerns to the broader concerns of all humanity.
Martin Luther King Jr. stated that “An individual who breaks a law that conscience tells him is unjust, and who willingly accepts the penalty of imprisonment in order to arouse the conscience of the community over its injustice, is in reality expressing the highest respect for the law.” Paraphrasing that thought, I broke a regulation to protest a law that my conscience told me was unjust, and I willingly accepted the punishment I did receive, and the potential punishments I knew I could receive. I took the action I did because I wanted to arouse the conscience of the President, Congress, and broader society over its injustice towards LGBT community members, and I protested in uniform with very much the highest respect for the military in which I’d served 20-years.
I certainly respect the Chief’s viewpoint on protesting in uniform. However, my lesbian, gay, and bisexual siblings in LGBT community can now serve openly in the U.S.’s five military services — that makes the very small part I played in DADT’s repeal worth it. Basically, I’d do what I did again — even if I knew ahead of time I’d definitely have the character of my discharge downgraded and lose my pension for protesting in uniform.
The hope of a secure and livable world lies with disciplined nonconformists who are dedicated to justice, peace and brotherhood. In whatever way one wants to define me as being nonconforming, I’ll take it if it means furthering the cause of ordinary equality.
I’m not likely going to ever convince people who believe I’m a narcissist that I’m not — it likely doesn’t matter to those folks that I’ve both a psychiatrist and a psychologist (who treat me for my actual bipolar type II/cyclothymia condition) who would disagree with them on the narcissism diagnosis. Or, that I’ve worked on issues regarding ordinary equality for LGBT people because I care about those who suffer in broader LGBT community, and especially those who suffer in the population of transsexual, transgender, and gender nonconforming people — I’m sure as hell not a part of the struggle ordinary equality for any personal fame. From experience I can say that there are big personal downsides to being well known in and out of trans community, and though I advocate being out and proud as trans, the negatives of being “famously” out and proud as trans far outweigh any personal benefit to being well known as trans.
But a trans blogger at a pro-transsexual/anti-transgender blog writing about my photos in uniform that are now more than three years old, and writing about my taking to White House fence in protest to DADT over two years after I first took to the fence — wow. For that trans blogger, it really is seemingly all about Autumn…the Autumn that she apparently hates in large part because I identify with the term transgender.