Guest Blogger

Transgender Community Win At The VA

Filed By Guest Blogger | June 28, 2011 3:00 PM | comments

Filed in: The Movement, Transgender & Intersex
Tags: trans veterans, transgender veterans, VA, Veterans Administration, Veterans Health Administration

Editors' note: Monica F. Helms is the president of the Transgender Americans Veterans Association.

On June 10, 2011, the day that many transgender veterans had been waiting for finally arrived. The Veterans Health Administration, a division of the Veterans Affairs Department, released the much anticipated directive toward transgender and intersex veterans. It's called, "Providing Health Care for Transgender and Intersex Veterans," VHA Directive 2011-024. A .pdf file can be found on the VA website.

This has been a decade long journey, when the community first discovered the inconsistency of treatment in VA facilities for our transgender, transsexual and intersex veterans. In January of 2003, they formed the Transgender American Veterans Association and later became a 501 (c)3 organization. TAVA helped to make this issue well known with people in Congress and many others in the VA and veterans organizations.

The biggest accomplishment was the creation of a survey that ran from December 2007 to May 2008. 827 transgender veterans took the survey. Questions asked them about all aspects of their life, including how the VA treated them if they used it. The results were shocking. Transgender veterans faced discrimination, disrespect and in some case, denial of all services. It didn't matter how long they served. The survey was compiled and put out in a white paper document by the Palm Center in California.

In the middle of 2008, the VA started creating a draft of a directive that was supposed to resolved the issues transgender veterans faced, but when they sent it out for review, it didn't quite do the job transgender veterans hoped for. They asked several people for help and had an effective draft in hand in July of 2008.

Then trans people waited. And, waited. And waited. But the wait was worth it. The version that finally came out on June 10, 2011 turned out stronger and even more effective than what the VA had in July of 2008.

It is important to note that this new directive does not cover sex reassignment surgery. This is because it is denied by a written law that would take Congress to fix.

All this directive really does is to emphasize to the VA facilities that transgender and intersex people who served this country in the military are veterans too, and should be treated as such. All veterans are covered by the VA Patient's Bill of Rights, and the VA facilities needed to be reminded of this. This directive will not cost the VA a single dime, because transgender and intersex veterans will only be getting everything that other veterans were already being given.

Here are some highlights to the new directive:

In accordance with the medical benefits package (title 38 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) Section 17.38), VA provides care and treatment to Veterans that is compatible with generally accepted standards of medical practice and determined by appropriate health care professionals to promote, preserve, or restore the health of the individual.

VA provides health care for transgender patients, including those who present at various points on their transition from one gender to the next. This applies to all Veterans who are enrolled in VA's health care system or who are otherwise eligible for VA care, including: those who have had sex reassignment surgery outside of VHA, those who might be considering such surgical intervention, and those who do not wish to undergo sex reassignment surgery, but self-identify as transgender.

It is VHA policy that medically necessary care is provided to enrolled or otherwise eligible intersex and transgender Veterans, including hormonal therapy, mental health care, preoperative evaluation, and medically necessary post-operative and long-term care following sex reassignment surgery.

Patients will be addressed and referred to based on their self-identified gender.

The documented sex in the Computerized Patient Record System (CPRS) should be consistent with the patient's self-identified gender.

A diagnosis of GID, or other gender dysphoria diagnoses, is not a pre-condition for receiving care consistent with the Veteran's self-identified gender.

All staff, including medical and administrative staff, are required to treat as confidential any information about a patient's transgender status or any treatment related to a patient's gender transition, unless the patient has given permission to share this information.

Mandated diversity awareness is maintained and a zero-tolerance standard for harassment of any kind.

In the directive, you will see this line: THIS VHA DIRECTIVE EXPIRES NOVEMBER 30, 2012. What we found out is that the "directive" aspect will indeed expire and this document will be placed in the VA manual when they do their revisions at the end of 2012 and will then be considered "policy" at that time.


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But what about the Veterans that don't like being called Transgender because of the words problematic communist history? Or the fact they wish to remain outside the LGBT community? Or that don't like being grouped with other people that don't have the same needs as they do? This is a free country Veterans deserve choices.As a Veteran of the Occupation of Berlin I find it insulting to have a word promoted by commies stuck to me and I question why the VA would allow a word with a documented communist history to be used in reference to a veteran especially like me that was stationed 110 miles behind communist lines.Of course I find it hard to believe that any US Vet would willingly allow a word with that history to be applie o them pretty un-American if you ask me.I think this is a major issue and I have to wonder why those who promoted the use of such a derogatory term didn't tell the VA about its complete troublesome history so that they could fully understand why some veterans are definitely going to have a problem with it and they should to? I mean seriously we can't have the United States Department of Veterans affairs using a communist word to refer to some of their Veterans that down right shameful.I think every Veteran shouldn't have to fear loosing their treatments they just gained because someone screwed up majorly. I think they should be allowed to choose how they wish to identify personally I prefer Lisa female pronouns and if I must Transsexual but never ever a commie word.

It seems to me that "the Veterans that don't like being called Transgender" will be protected and served under this policy as well.

How am I going to be treated by the VA if I refuse to be labeled with a commie word or I or someone else commits suicide over this? If the VA doesn't drop the use of the word I won't be back I won't let them disrespect me like that.

Do you have any references for this communist origin? Its not something I can recall ever hearing before, oddly. Are you saying Prince was communist?

Prince isn't credited with making it an umbrella term Leslie Feinberg all you have to do is google her and the history of the word transgender.

I'm not trying to get at you. I'm just nonplussed by the assertion.

As I recall the first to place it on record (in a hyphenated form) as an umbrella term, was the now-retired sociologist/psychoanalyst Professor at University of Ulster, Richard Ekins, who was very active between Prince, HBIGDA, FTM International, Whittle, etc.. He has a very mixed history for us, about which http://zagria.blogspot.com/2011/02/richard-ekins-194-jazz-musician.html merely hints, although it makes interesting reading. His non-published life is kept a closed book, so I wondered if you were assuming the common connection between sociology and marxism or had something firmer.

Sorry I didn't mean to offend you or to imply that you support either side of this issue. You are correct that he is the person first credited with documenting the word but Leslie Feinberg is credited as the first person writing about it and with devising a strategy for bringing it into the LGB. The words history, to who and how it is applied, and by who is using it to apply to other people I think is troubling enough to call into question its use on a widespread scale.

Thanks to you I now have proof tying its use as an umbrella term all the way back to its beginning as being tied to Marxist views. This is the first few pages of his book the Transgender Phenomenon it also goes into using it to break the capitalist system. All that I have read leads me to believe there is no way the powers that be were fully informed about any of this. From everything I've read the word Transgender goes against everything I served in the military for or for what the military protects. http://www.amazon.com/dp/0761971637?tag=agevawhswh-20&camp=213761&creative=393545&linkCode=bpl&creativeASIN=0761971637&adid=14HKHQGRNSD1FWV07R4W&#reader_0761971637

Ok. What's going on here? I seem to recall you asked me for help in making changes on the directive, and I reached out my hand to work with you on that. Now, you are here to make the same complaints? I gave you an outline on how to make these changes and you have made no effort to get the changes you want. These changes are not going to happen, even if someone had the powers of Harry Potter. A person has to work for what they want. This comment you made is showing me aren't ready. Care to show me I'm wrong?

If you don't wish to put any commitment in working for what you want, then you are risking people seeing you as nothing more than a person who only wants to cause trouble. Is that your only goal? My offer to help is still open, but if you continue like this, then I will resent my offer. It's up to you on how you want others to see you. I'll wait.

Monica after I talked to you this morning it became obvious that my complaint was going to be lost in bureaucracy somewhere between TAVA and NCTE. My complaint isn't with either of your organization its with the VA so that is where it is going.

Okay, you asked for my help. I offered my help. I hope you keep that in mind the next time you wish to give me a hard time about anything in the future. And you are worried your complaint will be lost in bureaucracy? Apparently you have never dealt with government agencies, ESPECIALLY the VA. They work their damness to add more layers every year. If you want to go this alone, then you may actually get to talk with someone who will make a difference in, say, 2055. Why do you think it took us 10 years and hundreds of people to get what we got? I wish you luck, and I really do mean that.

Oh, and just a heads up on something. If you insist on calling the VA a communist agency, you can kiss that 2055 date good bye. Remember that you catch more flies with honey . . . but you can catch a lot of them with s---, too. Okay. Never mind. That analogy didn't work well.

Lisa, do you understand that just because you don't like the term transgender (and I'm not greatly enamored of it either, but...) people are going to call their initiatives and Bilerico posts whatever THEY want to call them and aren't actually that clueless that they need you to "remind" them about transsexual people. You've made your point literally hundreds of times here, now please stop derailing every thread you're on because it's a huge turn off. Speaking personally, I feel as if you're degrading my experience on this site and, if anything, making me more distanced from you as a woman. Enough already.

Gina my comment isn't derailing the thread I am directly effected by this directive If I am unhappy with it or its wording here is the right place to express that.I have serious issues with the word if people wish me to stop lets find a solution that allows people that are unhappy with the word not to be forced to be labeled it. I stand by what I said given the words history it is embarrassing the VA is using it.

You don't use the VA, do you? So, you do not have first hand experience on how they would treat you. The transsexuals, post-op, pre-op and non-op are all treated as patients and as veterans. Before, they were not. We are veterans first, and that's how the VA treats us. Complaining on the verbiage is not going to get any better treatment. AND, I repeat, AND read this, straight from the directive:

BACKGROUND: In accordance with the medical benefits package (title 38 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) Section 17.38), VA provides care and treatment to Veterans that is compatible with generally accepted standards of medical practice and determined by appropriate health care professionals to promote, preserve, or restore the health of the individual.

a. VA provides health care for transgender patients, including those who present at various points on their transition from one gender to the next. This applies to all Veterans who are enrolled in VA’s health care system or who are otherwise eligible for VA care, including: those who have had sex reassignment surgery outside of VHA, those who might be considering such surgical intervention, and those who do not wish to undergo sex reassignment surgery, but self-identify as transgender. Intersex individuals may or may not have interest in changing gender or in acting in ways that are discordant with their assigned gender.

As per the directive, your complaints have no basis because they address EVERYTHING you are asking for it in these paragraphs.

Then it goes on with:

c. Definitions
(a) Transsexual (Male-to-Female). Male-to-female (MTF) transsexuals are individuals who are male sex at birth, but self-identify as female and often take steps to socially or medically transition to female, including feminizing hormone therapy, electrolysis, and surgeries (e.g., vaginoplasty, breast augmentation).

Your complaints will go nowhere because they covered them here. If you had read the directive, you would have seen this. What part of this do you not understand, or refuse to understand?

Monica I use the VA I am very familiar with how the VA works and I know what the directive says. Whether I get anywhere with the complaint only time will tell. Also I didn't call the VA communist you implied that I did. I called the people who promoted the word Transgender as an umbrella term were Communist. I also stated that whoever brought the word to the VA should have informed them of its history.That's not on the VA its on those who told them its an okay word to use.

Gees, Lisa. How do you think the VA got the word "transgender" in the first place? You seem to think it was forced upon them? The word has been around since the 1970s. The VA used what they knew as the most common word out there. No one who hates the word gave a damn about helping us to get this directive in the first place. AND NOW, they want to complain? Where were you when we were working on this? You did nothing to make this a reality, so you have nothing to complain about. Just like a person who didn't vote for President and complains about his policies, a person complaining about this directive who didn't help has nothing to stand on. Maybe next time you'll help.

AND don't use the excuse you didn't know we were working on this. TAVA has been around for 8.5 years. You think we were sitting on our asses all this time? If you had this concern years ago, you should have spoken up then. I guess the only thing I can say now is, "Live and Learn."

Some of us "were not allowed" to join TAVA because we didn't agree with your all inclusive terminology "transgender" and we didn't agree with the all inclusive umbrella. It was in your bylaws, you eliminated those you didn't agree with and you basically "censored" us. Remember me, US Marine, Vietnam Veteran, with a Purple Heart, Combat Action Ribbon, Meritorious Unit Citation with a bronze star, amongst several other decorations.

We had to agree to it before we would be accepted as members. I would have joined anyway even though I didn't like all things about it, I wanted to work with civil rights within the VA and the Military and I wanted to join TAVA.

Monica, would you please make public your by-laws and TAVA's acceptance agreement that you force on all applicants to TAVA? Or have you changed all that since you, personally, blocked my application because of our differences on the transgender/transsexual issue that includes bathroom issues?

That's totally wrong and you know it. Go back to the TSVets and spread your stories there. They think like you.

Here's a perfect example or your "separatism" in action. True colors coming through.

You didn't like that fact that we were "inclusive?" "Inclusive?" You wanted us to exclude people? I know exactly why you were not allowed on the TAVA list. We have rules that people were to respect how others identified themselves and people were warned that carrying on about how post-ops were superior to non-ops, pre-ops and crossdressers was not to be tolerated. Period. Hate comments against the word transgender were not tolerated. Period.

You were in the military and you don't know how to follow rules? I would remove anyone in a heartbeat if they were doing that today. You didn't start the organization and you didn't make the rules, and we don't really care if you got the CMH. You break the rules, you're gone. Got it?

There you go with your anger again.

Yep, and it's your umbrella term that destroys the T in LGBT. The umbrella is fracturing because of people like you and Autumn Sandeen and your "groupies" trying to ram an idea that is a merry-go-round and not an umbrella.

Your weren't inclusive, you basically eliminate any who would disagree with you in any way, eliminated discussion, and open forum. Your TAVA is not an open society. It's elitist.

And I know your going to "run to the office and scream TOS,TOS,TOS. That's what you do to eliminate opposition.

that carrying on about how post-ops were superior to non-ops, pre-ops and crossdressers was not to be tolerated.

This I never said, ever, You lie!

I was a non-op, I was a pre-op, I was a cross dresser. It's just that you try to portray publicy that we say these things and we do not. Most of us have come through all the labels, like when I first read the word "transvestite" in the library when I was doing some "research" in the 7th grade, I thought I found out what I was then, 1963. So, I went from being a transvestite, to a cross dresser, to thinking I maybe was a gay male, then to transsexual, and I never thought I was a transgender. I was a non-op, then a pre-op and now a post-op. So why do you accuse me or us of the things you make up in your mind? Just to slander us?

Yes, I get angry, when people don't follow the rules. Apparently, you didn't, so you were gone. Seems simple to me. And now, you come here to break Bilerico's rules?

It seems easy to understand. The Transgender American Veterans Association got the VA to issue a directive for the health care of transgender veterans, and it has already helped transgender veterans get treatments that they had been denied before June 10. You had nothing to do with it, which seems to anger you. Well, too bad. I can't help it that you talked your way out of being able to help transgender veterans by the attitude you must have expressed 8 or so years ago. It appears you are still angry after all these years. And, to be honest, I don't even remember you. Made quite an impression, I guess.

The Transgender American Veterans Association got this win with the help of the National Center for Transgender Equality. And, we also got help from the Transgender Law Center. Transgender veterans will benefit from this long after you and I are gone. I sleep well at night knowing that I was able to help transgender veterans.

"Yes, I get angry, when people don't follow the rules".

Excuse me, I have never been under "your" rules nor will ever be so I don't have to follow your rules. That's one of the problems with your organization, no free voice.

"It seems easy to understand. The Transgender American Veterans Association got the VA to issue a directive for the health care of transgender veterans, and it has already helped transgender veterans get treatments that they had been denied before June 10".

Most of what is going on with that is that those who identify as female or transgender and seeking treatment will get it. As far as those who live as men, practice life as men won't be seeking these treatments unless they have some need or intention on transitioning, which is good. You're doing good work, and that's great. But the VA is not going to adopt your "umbrella" I got news for you.

I never wanted to work with a group as closed minded as "yours". I am happy you enjoy your work. I am not a person that seeks self recognition or my name in the marquee lights. It's not about self, it's about separating those who live as men, practice life as men and continue to enjoy male privileged from those who live as women, practice life as women or have feelings that they identify as feminine in some way. Yes, they can get help. That's all great. But, you have an ego problem along with others out there trying to make a name for themselves instead of putting forth the organization and it's agenda first. This isn't a popularity contest and is why I think you receive so much grief from those not under your coattail.

"The Transgender American Veterans Association got this win with the help of the National Center for Transgender Equality".

Can you substantiate these claims? Any documents that TAVA actually made any presentations, or lobbied anyone or traveled anywhere to participate in some kind of forum with the heads of the VA and/or the Transgender Law Center to implement these results or are you just hijacking the news? I personally don't see that the Transgender Law Center would be needing your help defining anyone's rights or taking a "case" before any VA board. Why don't you be upfront with us here?

I would be willing to bet The Transgender American Veterans Association tagged on the coattail of the Transgender Law Center, if anything at all. The only time TAVA seems to get any "national" recognition it is when it is from you on PHB or here at Bilerico. Defuse me here with some facts. That should gloat your ego if you can offer proof and I will eat crow. I've had to do it before, so I'm use to the taste.

I really don't appreciate soldiers wearing medals they didn't earn and that has been going on a lot.

Monica, your achievement in this directive (which looks very good as long as one shuts ones eyes to the T word) is being despoiled by you, or those around you having failed, as a crucial time in the past, when your group was formed, to clearly acknowledge and respect the diversity of those affected by matters of sexual orientation and gender identity and presentation.

It looks as if you feel that telling those who have been affronted, excluded, and possibly trigged by that, ever since, that they can only blame themselves, will drive them away, or silence them. But it looks to me like they are getting more numerous, and more affronted.

How can that be?

With all due respect, perhaps it might be you who need to "Live and Learn"?

Gina, Dr Weiss already ruled that questioning the use of the T word is acceptable robust debate.

It seems beyond belief that anyone could equate Leslie Feinberg to the USSR.

Leslie is a Socialist, but he didn't invent the word. Virgina Prince invented the word, "trangenderist," and other people shortened it, people I know. It wasn't even considered an umbrella term until the 1990s, when various transsexual separatists began inventing their own terms and wanted to be considered better in the gender-different world.

When you are talking about a government agency, like the VA, that kind of attitude will get you nowhere, even with this new directive in hand. They'll ask if you want treatment or not. If you are a veteran and is qualified to use the VA, then they will help you AND change you name an gender in their records. If they are willing to make those changes without blinking, then what does anyone have to complain about? Afraid of needles, maybe?

"wanted to be considered better in the gender-different world".

NOT what we wanted, recognition is all we want and ever wanted, just like those who enjoy the use of their chosen nomenclature, transgender. These are two different things. It's a great step to have the VA open it doors to all, but the way you speak at us and comment about us "considered better", doesn't help the situation and never has. You are still maligning folks, uh, kinda like NCO's. Have you noticed you enjoy pissing people off? It's the way you talk to us Monica that we don't appreciate and you do fuel the fire, don't act like you don't. Your a separatist too, in your own little divisive way. We know, you think your above us all and that's why your not really liked on a personal level. You reap what you sow.

No, let me tell you who thinks they are "better", it's those who live as men, practice life as men, and value the "male privilege" on a daily basis so much so they won't change their names, they won't present daily as women, they won't risk their jobs to identify publicly as trans-anything. These are those who consider themselves "better"

Tsssk, Monica, please. I'm astonished that someone of your standing is thrashing around the old libel about transsexual people thinking themselves superior. That is an almost abusive way to try to silence people. Goodness, they think they should be heard, what an elitist idea!

Has this been the sort of poison that has been working away, leading to this resentment?

You do seem to have your history of the diversity associated with gender identity and presentation somewhat wrong too. At least as seen by those who were around at the time.

Have you read http://zagria.blogspot.com/2011/02/richard-ekins-194-jazz-musician.html ? It might help. Read between its lines too.

Your comments on the care people may receive from the VA are probably right. But in the UK the fact that a transgender activist monopolised the Department of Health's input slot at a crucial time led to leaflets being circulated to all medical staff, using pictures of her to illustrate "transgender people", and advising that we were all likely to have in-congruent genitalia under our clothing. Naturally this injected an element into healthcare settings that had not previously been present, causing massive resistance to use of a new, national, database of medical history, and many instructing their doctors to never, ever, use the T word about them.

Umbrella terms are terribly inappropriate in respect of distinct medical conditions in a medical setting, where treating every patient as an individual is the clinical golden rule.

Monica, I'm trying to interpret your reply to me, because it sounds like you are responding to things I didn't say. But:

Leslie is a Socialist, but he didn't invent the word. Virgina Prince invented the word, "trangenderist," and other people shortened it, people I know. It wasn't even considered an umbrella term until the 1990s, when various transsexual separatists began inventing their own terms and wanted to be considered better in the gender-different world.

Oh, I do know the history, but Lisa McDonald pointed to Leslie Feinberg as proof that "transgender" is a communist word. I find this interpretation of history baffling. Even if Leslie invented the word rather than contributed to popularizing it, Leslie's not an enemy of the state for being a socialist. How is it remotely reasonable to equate him to Cold War USSR? That's what I am failing to understand. The entire objection is premised on flimsy and pointless claims.

When you are talking about a government agency, like the VA, that kind of attitude will get you nowhere, even with this new directive in hand. They'll ask if you want treatment or not. If you are a veteran and is qualified to use the VA, then they will help you AND change you name an gender in their records. If they are willing to make those changes without blinking, then what does anyone have to complain about? Afraid of needles, maybe?

Was this addressed to me or just a general statement in response to the complaints above?

"transsexual separatists began inventing their own terms"

Not quite Monica, nomenclature has evolved over time and the word "transsexual" was being used in the early 1970's. Where were you in the 1970's? Also, before cross dresser, the term used was "transvestite". I wish you could keep all this straight in your mind.

Is a "transsexual separatist" what I call a woman (or a man)?

I won't argue with your assertion that comparing Leslie Feinberg with the USSR is absurd in many ways but I do think the situation is more complicated than that. It took me all of forty-five seconds to Google this

Feinberg is credited with creating the modern definition of the word "transgender", in the 1992 pamphlet "Transgender Liberation: A Movement Whose Time Has Come". Feinberg was the first to use the word "transgender" as an umbrella term representing a political alliance between all gender-variant people who do not conform to social norms for typical men and women, and who suffer political and social oppression as a result.

Feinberg is literally the embodiment of what it means to be transgender. I am reminded of one of the few things I've read about Feinberg and the invisible hand written about in Jay Prosser's book. It is a perfect demonstration of how much different it is to be transsexual rather than transgender. This is complicated, too. There is a real lot of animosity toward people who find a need for medical treatments, especially surgery. It's a real problem. I have a lot of intersex people I am in constant contact with. I sympathize with their needs and all the concerns they have about non-consensual treatments. The feelings are not reciprocal, however. The feelings toward post transsexual people actually run from dismissive to hostile among the intersex people I know who actually feel that Leslie Feinberg's attitude toward gender not sex is the paradigm. The intersex people I know make a sharp distinction between gender and sex, rightfully so because there are sharp distinctions.

It was you who said the issue of surgery is one of access. I know what Jesse Helms did but people who do not fight in wars like the Gulf Wars or protest against Viet Nam and who resisted the draft were thrown in jail or were forced to leave the country as a matter of conscience. I was close to many people who made sacrifices or whose lives suffered because they took a stand against what they knew was wrong, people who were thrown in jail, went to Canada, received conscientious objector status and went to California to work with Caesar Chavez.

I am not anti-military, totally. I do think, however, there are a great deal of problems with the military when we constantly have Dan Choi, Diane Shroer, Amanda Simpson held up as examples. Great, transsexual, transgender, lesbian, gay people come from all walks of life. Why are veterans always being held up as shining examples of how virtuous people can be from anyone of those demographics? Being transsexual is not a political act. Why can't people just be who they are instead of being forced in with groups of people they might strongly disagree with about many things other than the right not to be discriminated against? Except for the Vietnam Veterans Against the War, veteran groups have never been at the van among those working for social progress. It seems bizarre the way Feinberg and his socialist politics are thrown in among these people. His comments are like everyone should join a war effort even if they are strongly opposed to many of the objectives.

The way the argument about what it means to be transsexual and the way it is constantly dismissed reaches levels of absurdity that definitely seem to tie in with the charges of elitism. I watched a Bernie Sanders speech yesterday where he said military spending had tripled over the last three decades. That's not a problem. How do we resolve the healthcare problems for people who aren't veterans? Is forcing people to pay into a private system the way the Obama plan does the solution? I don't think so. I have a lot of faith in Bernie Sanders vision of social support networks. I do not have any faith in any kind of social or political plan that forces people into it, especially when it is shoved down people's throats how they have to compromise with the ones who are actually creating the inequality in the first place.

I know the V A doesn't offer transsexual surgery but it does offer health care that most people are not provided with in this country. I really think it is time people stop dismissing what it means to be transsexual and become sensitive to the differences between people. I think it is great that Leslie Feinberg found his way. I believe in self determination, everyones. The transsexual/transgender debate is very important. It has nothing to do with elitism. Who has medical care and who doesn't does.

Pardon me while I just go beat my head against a wall now...

Ah, that feels better.

Congrats, Monica. OK, next up, getting the law changed that prevents surgery. Which law is it, how did it come about, how do we marshal arguments as to medical necessity, etc.

BTW I don't identify as Transgender. But a nose by any other name would smell, and "protandrous dichogamous pseudohermaphrodite", while medically correct, doesn't exactly trip off the tongue. I'll leave others to debate terminology while I attempt to get laws changed to help people.

"Transgender" is a Communist word? Who let in Joe McCarthy?

The commies are after our gender markers! Better dead than transgendeRED!

I don't think this is funny at all. McCarthyism is the flip side of Stalinism. At least Lisa served on the East German border and did not volunteer for one of the three unjust wars waged by this country in the last fifty years. I think I see her point about forced conformity being similar in many ways to the forced collectivism of Stalinist regimes. I see McCarthyism here, Kevin McCarthyism a la Invasion of the Body Snatchers fingering of those who don't conform with the aims of a group they never asked to belong to in the first place and ganging up on them. No, I don't hold the same political ideals Lisa does. I just don't see anyone really looking into what she is trying to say and arguing the points. I see people trying to make her the object of ridicule. Censor me for saying so. Another thing, where is the advocacy for medical care for everyone? A big part of the T-word debate is affordability of SRS and the charges of elitism against those who have found a way to pay for it. I am copying and pasting these comments to my Facebook page just in case they are censored, now.

You might consider that the reason no one has tried to argue her "points" is because it's a futile effort. Over the past couple of months I've engaged Lisa multiple times and found that she is absolutely unwilling to listen to what is said to her, repeats the same points over and over, refuses to back up claims, and dodges any response to her points. Engaging her is a waste of time because she will simply repeat the same talking points in the next trans thread as if the discussion never happened. The fact that she has gone into this anachronistic and overblown communism angle just cements that.

Sas you might want to review your comments to me because what you are claiming simply isn't the truth. Your only one of several who break down to personal attacks when you can't provide a good return argument. As for Communism no matter what form it is I earned my right to dislike it and I saw first hand what the effects of it are. You might support taking away peoples freedom of choice, you might support sticking unwanted labels on people but that is not the American way. Like it or not I see the VA using the word Transgender as inappropriate for more reasons than just its Communist history and I have every right to complain to the VA about it and to be heard by them.

I think I heard a record skipping...

More personal attacks tisk tisk tisk

Since personal attacks are against the TOS and are deleted, it seems your opinion of my comments doesn't match up. XD

SAS or it tells you that I didn't hit the report button and complain about it. I'll let those who read all this come to their own judgements.

"did not volunteer for one of the three unjust wars waged by this country in the last fifty years".

You go where your sent, you don't volunteer or un-volunteer yourself from a war whether or not you think it is just or not. Your government property.

Actually you are wrong Phyllis and I'll explain why. First to be assigned to Berlin you had to be hand picked because you met the standards they were looking for. After that they approached you and explained about the situation in Berlin things like it being located 110 miles behind communist lines and that you would be severely outnumbered should things turn ugly.After that you were given the choice to accept the assignment or not and all of what I just said should be easily verifiable if you want to find it. So Edith is correct about me volunteering to be there. She is slightly incorrect in saying I was on the East German border when in fact I was 110 miles behind it. I was also there during President Reagan's first term when he had all those kind words to say about the Soviet Union. So its also safe to say my life very easily could have been sacrificed for this country against communism should it have went bad.If Monica or the others wish to laugh at my service to my country or my reasons for not wishing to be associated with anything viewed as Communist more power to them my concern is that the Va cares about it and corrects it.

Well, your right Lisa, there are volunteer and high standards for some duty but I was responding to edith about "volunteering for three unjust wars". Many who fought in those wars have no say about it. We use to have a draft, remember?

We are in the process of working on the law which was first introduced in 1993 and used terms we don't use today. However, they put out VHA Directive 2009-051, Plastic Reconstructive Surgery, which you can find as a .pdf file at www.va.gov/vhapublications/ViewPublication.asp?pub_ID=2099

They state that reconstructive surgery is for the needs that are medically necessary. We can use this as a tool to get SRS/GRS, because there is a lot of documentation proving our surgery is medically necessary. The IRS considers it so and pays for expenses. Well, they were forced to recognize it. We'll see.

Will this be done with an eye to also enabling availability on Medicaid, including the national scheme guaranteeing medical care for minors, so that there is no built-in age limit, either upper or lower, allowing each individual case to be decided by clinical need?

The supposed, and increasingly discredited SOC currently sets a guideline of 18 as a minimum age, but it is usually taken as much more rigid that medical guidelines usually are, and that age is purely arbitrary with no clinical basis. We want it down, where appropriate, and don't need additional barriers created inadvertently, anywhere, in the meantime.

Congratulations, Monica. I know you've worked tirelessly for this. This is great news for you and all trans veterans.

Thank you, Sher. There's more work to be done and we will still need help.

The bottom line is that you can complain all you want because it's meaningless You're insignificant in the scheme of things. None of you did a thing to help. I spent 10 years and put in thousands hours and thousands of dollars to get this directive, so I can brag that THIS transgender/transsexual person did something to help transsexual and transgender people. Hundreds of others put in an equal amount of time, energy and money. The complainers here did nothing. There is not gratitude anyone owns them, because they didn't earn anything.

All I can say is, too bad. You don't like the directive, too bad. You don't like the language, tough shit. You don't like me, I can care less. Each letter we get thanking us for our work make the complainers even more insignificant. We got another one today. Each new person who joins TAVA makes all of you look like fools. I can sleep well at night knowing I have helped to save lives. So, you can piss and moan all you want because it doesn't mean a thing to me.

Me,me,me,me,memememeeeeeee.........Yes Monica, I think we've all heard it before, You did it all and you did it all by yourself. Your so wonderful.

Not to mention that you will squash out anyone who comes near your precious TAVA. Uh, how long have you been the "President" now? Since it's inception? Hey, that's a democracy at work for ya.

I trust the Transgender Law Center that they do most all of it and Mara and her group. And as fair as possibly can be.

I noticed you posted this and proclaimed to the world, with your photo to prove you did do it all. You, Monica, changed the VA. No one else, just you. I don't have to argue with you anymore, everyone's got your number by now.

Little boy blue, come blow your horn,
Sheep's in the meadow, cows in the corn....

Your the only one who toots your own accolades. I suspect when someone else does it, some will believe you, but not I.

Spoken like a true buck Sargent, Monica.

"All I can say is, too bad. You don't like the directive, too bad. You don't like the language, tough shit. You don't like me, I can care less. Each letter we get thanking us for our work make the complainers even more insignificant. We got another one today. Each new person who joins TAVA makes all of you look like fools. I can sleep well at night knowing I have helped to save lives. So, you can piss and moan all you want because it doesn't mean a thing to me".

Excuse me but we're not in your military. This should have spoken to your "subjects"

I won't argue with your assertion that comparing Leslie Feinberg with the USSR is absurd in many ways but I do think the situation is more complicated than that. It took me all of forty-five seconds to Google this

Feinberg is credited with creating the modern definition of the word "transgender", in the 1992 pamphlet "Transgender Liberation: A Movement Whose Time Has Come". Feinberg was the first to use the word "transgender" as an umbrella term representing a political alliance between all gender-variant people who do not conform to social norms for typical men and women, and who suffer political and social oppression as a result.

Feinberg is literally the embodiment of what it means to be transgender. I am reminded of one of the few things I've read about Feinberg and the invisible hand written about in Jay Prosser's book. It is a perfect demonstration of how much different it is to be transsexual rather than transgender. This is complicated, too. There is a real lot of animosity toward people who find a need for medical treatments, especially surgery. It's a real problem. I know a lot of intersex people who I am in constant contact with. I sympathize with their needs and all the concerns they have about non-consensual treatments. The feelings are not reciprocal, however. The feelings toward post transsexual people actually run from dismissive to hostile among the intersex people I know who actually feel that Leslie Feinberg's attitude toward gender not sex is the paradigm. The intersex people I know make a sharp distinction between gender and sex, rightfully so because there are sharp distinctions.

It was you who said the issue of surgery is one of access. I know what Jesse Helms did but people who do not fight in wars like the Gulf Wars or protest against Viet Nam and who resisted the draft were thrown in jail or were forced to leave the country as a matter of conscience. I was close to many people who made sacrifices or whose lives suffered because they took a stand against what they knew was wrong, people who were thrown in jail, went to Canada, received conscientious objector status and went to California to work with Caesar Chavez.

I am not anti-military, totally. I do think, however, there are a great deal of problems with the military. Why are Dan Choi, Diane Shroer, Amanda Simpson constantly held up as examples? Great, transsexual, transgender, lesbian, gay people come from all walks of life. Why are veterans always being held up as shining examples of how virtuous people can be who come from those demographics, though? Being transsexual is not a political act. Why can't people just be who they are instead of being forced in with groups of people they might strongly disagree with about many things other than the right not to be discriminated against? Except for the Vietnam Veterans Against the War, veteran groups have never been at the van among those working for social progress. Why do veterans get so much attention in the realm LGBT or the transsexual rights? It seems bizarre the way Feinberg and his socialist politics are thrown in among these people but in a way the attitudes seem similar. His comment above reads like everyone should join a war effort even if they are strongly opposed to many of the objectives.

The way the argument about what it means to be transsexual and the way it is constantly dismissed reaches levels of absurdity that definitely seem to tie in with the charges of elitism. I watched a Bernie Sanders speech yesterday where he said military spending had tripled over the last three decades. That's not a problem? How do we resolve the healthcare problems for people who aren't veterans? Where's the money to come from? Is forcing people to pay into a private system the way the Obama plan does the solution? I don't think so. I have a lot of faith in Bernie Sanders vision of social support networks. I do not have any faith in any kind of social or political plan that forces people into it, especially when it is shoved down people's throats how they have to compromise with the ones who are actually creating the inequality in the first place. I do not buy the notion that the needs of transsexual people and objectives are the same as those who are transgender. I don't think that notion should be forced on transsexual people for the sake of political expediency like it's some war effort everyone is obliged to join.

I know the V A doesn't offer transsexual surgery but it does offer health care that most people are not provided with in this country. I really think it is time people stop dismissing what it means to be transsexual and become sensitive to the differences between people. I think it is great that Leslie Feinberg found his way. I believe in self determination, everyone's. The transsexual/transgender debate is very important. It has nothing to do with elitism. Who has medical care and who doesn't does.

Gender was originally a linguistic term. In many languages, words can be considered masculine, feminine, or neutral, completely independently from the attributes of the things to which the word applies. Different languages manifest gender in various ways, recognizing two genders (female, male), three genders (female, male, neuter), or none at all. In some (e.g. the Romance languages), variation by gender is indicated by relatively simple changes in nouns and adjectives, while others require more complex grammatical changes. In English, a transsexual person's first step in transition often includes the request to be referred to using pronouns for their target gender (she rather than he, her rather than him, and hers rather than his, or vice versa). Some English speakers who feel that they are best described as something in between or other than masculine or feminine prefer to use “ze” and “hir” (examples of gender neutral pronouns in English), or other invented neutral pronouns.

In 1930, Magnus Hirschfeld supervised the first genital reassignment surgery to be reported in detail in a peer-reviewed journal on Lili Elbe of Denmark. The German term “Transsexualismus” was introduced by Hirschfeld in 1923.[8] The neo-Latin term “psychopathia transexualis” and English “transexual” were introduced by D. O. Cauldwell in 1949,[9] who subsequently also used the term “trans-sexual” in 1950.[10] Cauldwell appears to be the first to use the term in direct reference to those who desired a change of physiological sex.[11] (In 1969, Benjamin claimed to have been the first to use the term “transsexual” in a public lecture, which he gave in December 1953.[12]) This term continues to be used by the public and medical profession alike.[13] It was included for the first time in the DSM-III in 1980 and again in the DSM-III-R in 1987, where it was located under Disorders Usually First Evident in Infancy, Childhood or Adolescence.

Christine Jorgensen created an international sensation when in 1952 she was the first widely known person to have sex reassignment surgery—in this case, male to female.

The word transsexual was used by Harry Benjamin in his seminal 1966 book The Transsexual Phenomenon to describe transsexuals on a scale (later called the "Benjamin scale") that recognizes three levels of intensity of transsexualism: "Transsexual (nonsurgical)", "Transsexual (moderate intensity)", and "Transsexual (high intensity)".[14][15][16] in The Transsexual Phenomenon, Benjamin described "true" transsexualism in this way: "True transsexuals feel that they belong to the other sex, they want to be and function as members of the opposite sex, not only to appear as such. For them, their sex organs, the primary (testes) as well as the secondary (penis and others) are disgusting deformities that must be changed by the surgeon's knife."[17] Benjamin suggested that moderate intensity male to female transsexuals may benefit from estrogen medication as a "substitute for or preliminary to operation."[14] Some people have had SRS but do not meet the common definition of a transsexual (e.g., Gregory Hemingway).[18][19] While other people do not desire SRS, they do not meet Dr. Benjamin's definition of a "true transsexual".[20] Beyond Benjamin's work, which focused on male-to-female transsexuals, there is the case of the female to male transsexual for whom genital surgery may not be practical. Benjamin gives his MTF transsexual patients papers that will help with most legal problems. The certificates state 'Their anatomical sex, that is to say, the body, is male. Their psychological sex, that is to say, the mind, is female'. However, beyond 1967 Benjamin and his terminology of sexual identity are found to be mostly obsolete.[7]

funny how Leslie Feinberg isn't mentioned in any manner whatsoever and it took about 18.6544381 seconds to find this information. furthermore there seems to be no credence to the idea that the term has any particular association with communists marxists, socialists, capitalists, or any other ist that one can find.

Knowledge is Power. Power Corrupts. Study Hard. Be Evil.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Transsexualism