Transitioning early in life: Melissa's advice

(Editor's note: I've changed her name and removed some identifying information to protect her privacy.)

Melissa sent the following letter to me in March 2006 about beginning her transition in the miltary and (luckily) getting out without problems.

My name is Melissa from ___.  I am currently in college and doing well.  I am nearing the end of transition in my eyes.  SRS is coming up fast however I don't view that as the end just another step.  I think the end of transition is more of an internalized feeling or  concept but I digress.  I have had an interesting story that could provide any young trans person with some hope in a country such as this.  

I grew up in a small farming community in Central NY after moving down from Canada at age five.  My parents were older.  Dad was from a family that based its decision on what other people might think about it.  They were very image oriented.  To this day my Dad's side has no insight into how other people feel however he has not disowned me to his credit.  There was limited Internet access and I got what I call the Jerry Springer effect.  I saw Trans people that did not  represent the best of us on his program.  My parents would not provide me with the Internet so I didn't get the truth.  I didn't have the vocabulary to describe why I was having such social difficulties in school until after graduation when I joined the Army.  I knew I wasn't gay.  I guess I wanted to be my father's extension of his ego.  The truth was it made sense.  I don't look at it as overcompensating.  I was interested in law enforcement and forensics.  Since I wasn't 21, in order to become a police office, I decided to earn college money and travel.  It wasn't about trying to meet a male standard so at 18 off I went.  

I started my enlistment [overseas] and once I had gotten my own computer access I started researching trans stuff for reasons that were not clear to me at the time but it didn't take long for me to acquire the vocabulary to describe what was going on with me.  It was then  that my transition time clock started ticking.  I was signed up to serve for five years and I was transitioning under the radar.  Three years into transition I had completed hours of laser and electro and many therapy sessions.  My Sergeants just thought I was a great soldier having such a great shave.  LMAO.  They loved my boyish face.  

I was [later] stationed [...] about an hour north of NYC so to NYC I went.  Callen Lorde Community Health Center really helped me.  I also froze sperm all using my Army pay check.  It came out of my pocket but Callen Lorde got me on hormones and all.  At [...] I was a Military Police dispatcher.  My supervisor  had an idea that I was getting a "sex change" but he kept it quiet to avoid scandal.  He was actually good about it except I had some nick names that were known in my section.  Each person in the dispatch operations section had a super hero nickname like Batman or Spider man.  I was Bat girl.  In the morning I would send one of the patrols over to the [...] Coffee shop to get my vanilla late and apple turnover.  They called it my fluffy fairy drink.  I didn't want to drink their black Army coffee but who could blame me.  

One day during an Army football game when I was working a metal detector I was reminded were I was from the conversation going on next to me.  Three other soldiers were talking about the "transvestite" that was dating a soldier down in Fort Campbell.  They had mentioned what happened to him.  I was standing with them because they were part of my detail so they considered me in on the conversation I guess because the one talking the most was including me in his eye contact.  I just nodded pretending I didn't know anything about it.  The one soldier telling the story was a Sgt First Class and he finished his sentences by spitting into a soda can from the crew in his mouth.  I think that was the 2002 football season.  I will never forget that day.  Transition started to become a problem when my PT score dropped from the high doses of hormones.  In the form fitting summer PT uniform I was worried that I would be exposed.  I got out of the Army just in time.  It was getting to the  point were it was dangerous.  

I received an honorable discharge, GI Bill education benefits, and anything dealing with Trans health is provided by the Veterans Affairs free of charge.  I have a great Endo from the VA.  She is a friendly energetic young woman and we just hit it off.  The nurses at the VA all know me by my first name.  It is great.  I go to [...] College on the GI Bill.  Trans students have the support of the disabilities resource center at my  college.  I have pressured the Pride Alliance to push for gender neutral bathrooms which we are getting now.  My transition has been slow over the past five years.  I am now 25.  This is the year of SRS.  

When the VA took me on a year and a half ago, I was told that I was one of the youngest if not the youngest trans person to be treated at the VA and I hope that number goes up.  I still have not met any other VA trans patients in their twenties.  I hope that changes.  Mom has been very supportive.  When I came out to her she was so happy.  She new something was up but when I told her in a therapy session she was relieved to learn that I wasn't physically ill.  She thought I had a brain tumor or something.  Now I get cool bracelets and jewelry for Christmas.  She is having fun with it all.  Knowing what I know now, I think anything is  possible.  You can share this story with any that may benifit from it.

Send me your thoughts, links, and advice!

If you transitioned in your teens or twenties and have any advice you'd like to share, please contact me , and I'll give it a permanent (and anonymous) home.