Popped Culture: The Plight of Our Brothers and Sisters
By: Robert Stinson
As we recently observed Veterans Day, let us not forget that we live in a nation where lesbians, gays, bi-sexual and transgendered people continue to serve in silence for fear of being exposed and subsequently discharged under the militaryâ€™s current â€œDonâ€™t Ask Donâ€™t Tellâ€ policy.
On October 19th, U.S. District Judge Virginia Phillipsâ€™ injunction on DADT was temporarily acknowledged by the Pentagon. In response, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco indefinitely extended its freeze on Judge Philipsâ€™ order. This same panel of judges was responsible for a temporary hold on DADT while they challenge the ruling that the policy is unconstitutional.
Conservatives argue that open homosexuality weakens the morale of U.S. troops. It is their contention that this policy will hinder the militaryâ€™s ability to recruit and retain enlisted men.Â To add insult to injury, The Union Tribune quoted General James F. Amos as saying, â€œThere is nothing more intimate than combat, and when youâ€™re talking infantry, we are talking about young men laying out sleeping alongside one another and sharing death and fear and the loss of their brothers.â€ This statement alludes to the current protocol of placing two marines to a bunk, a policy that, according to Amos, could be compromised with the passing of DADT.
In direct opposition to this argument, NBC News released a secret Pentagon poll that showed only a small minority of U.S. troops actually object to serving alongside gays and lesbians. In response, Rep. Susan Davis stated, â€œIf the survey shows by and large, with exceptions of course, that itâ€™s not a big deal for people, then I would hope…that perhaps people would have a greater readiness.â€
In a gallant effort to stifle opposition to DADT, Dan Choi, a West Point graduate, Arab linguist and son of a Baptist minister, came out of the closet on the â€œRachel Maddow Showâ€. What followed was a smear campaign surprisingly conducted by the Village Voice that painted Dan in a less than flattering light. Despite this, he continues to tour the country spreading his message of hope. In addition, Dan made an appeal directly to the Obama Administration on his website stating that he â€œImplores President Obama and his Justice Department to refuse lifting a finger, refrain from wasting any energy, statements, or money defending â€˜Donâ€™t Ask Donâ€™t Tellâ€™ in the court system.â€
For this issue of NUG, I interviewed Abby, an employee for the Constitutional Wellness Center while moonlighting as a talented published poet. She opened the book on a subject that many of us only understand in the abstract â€“ the plight of our transsexual brothers and sisters.
What first attracted you to the medical marijuana field?
Abby: I had friends who experienced joint pain, and for them, smoking substantially relieved it. With being transgendered, there comes an exponential amount of stress and feelings of rejection. Marijuana in conjunction with therapy can soothe these anxieties much better than psychotropic drugs.
Could you tell us what it means to be a pre-op transsexual?
Abby: A pre-op is someone who is considering or is in the process of transitioning into oneâ€™s appropriate gender. Until I moved to San Diego, I had never heard of another class of transgendered people called non-ops, who literally wonâ€™t have the operation at all. As a matter of fact, our own Mrs. Trans San Diego is a non-op. She has never taken hormones or elected for any surgeries and she looks fabulous!
Isnâ€™t there a protocol that one usually sticks to when going through this kind of metamorphosis?
Abby: Itâ€™s called the Harry Benjamin Protocol, which is a series of steps we Trans Folk have to take in order toÂ receiveÂ the care and get the surgeries that we soÂ desperatelyÂ need. It also makes sure that we are psychologically ready for the change while helping our doctors weed out patients who may have compound issues they are choosing to deal with by opting for surgery. There is a reason why the suicide rate in my community is so high. Â The hoops we have to jump through to get essential services can beÂ ridiculous. Â Though, over the years, the protocol has changed a bit to ourÂ benefit. I would be more than pleased if the powers that be got rid of them all together. I know what I am, I know what I want, and I donâ€™t need to be endlesslyÂ psychoanalyzedÂ to prove it. Â It borders on stupidity.
I love your tattoos by the way, could you tell us a little more about them?
Abby: I used to say they were a bad excuse to get women to like me. The truth is, I love getting tattoos and after a while it becomes an addiction. If I got the money back that I spent on all my tattoos, I might be further along in my transition. My knuckles say â€œLone Starâ€, that is my sonâ€™s middle name.
You have a son?
Abby: I actually have two sons. Itâ€™s amazing you donâ€™t realize your capacity for love until you have children. They now live in Texas with my ex-wife. When I came out to her, she said that she couldnâ€™t be with me because she wasnâ€™t a lesbian, and I replied, â€œNeither am I.â€
Could you explain more in depth what it was like growing up transgendered? How did your family react?
Abby: When I was young, very young, I felt different. Â What I felt, I donâ€™t think you could call â€œtransgenderedâ€; I felt more like an alien. There was not muchÂ diversityÂ in my community (Mammoth Lakes), so I hadÂ nothingÂ and no one to compare myself to. When looking in the mirror, I saw a face and knew it was my face, but it didnâ€™t FEEL like MY face. It was…alien. I startedÂ cross-dressingÂ when I was about five or so, and that was squashedÂ immediately. Also, the way I sat â€“ legs crossed like a girl â€“ was â€œcorrectedâ€. I didnâ€™t discover I was transgendered until I watched an episode of â€œTheÂ GeraldoÂ Rivera Showâ€, where he had Trans Folk on â€“ it must have been â€œsweepsâ€ week! I watched and listened with such concentration that my mother said, â€œYou should see the look of disgust on your face.â€ Well, it wasnâ€™t disgust, it was aÂ catharticÂ moment. Â Iâ€™m Trans! At least now I had a name for it. Â I hid myÂ cross-dressingÂ from my family the best I could, but had beenÂ caughtÂ in compromising situations.Â I built an image for myself, took boxing classes, played soccer, and skied anything with snow on it. Â I was a hard drinking, bar room brawling, drug snorting, woman chasing man!Â â€“ At least thatâ€™s what most people thought. At night, when no one was around, I could be found in a leather skirt or high heel shoes. When I finally â€œcame outâ€ after 3 failed suicide attempts (IÂ flat-linedÂ 3 times on the last one), I thought it was the only thing I could do â€“Â be honest with myself andÂ others. I figured people would rally around me, but to my surprise, they did not. I like to say it was â€œawesome andÂ devastatingâ€ at the same time.Â I lost a lot of friends and family, but at least I know where I stand, and I figure thatâ€™s a good thing.
Wow, you are an incredibly brave woman! When you came to San Diego did people welcome you with open arms or did you experience a lot of discrimination?
Abby: San Diego has welcomed me with open arms, but closed doors. I applied forÂ over 1000 jobs before I landed one.Â I hid in myÂ apartment, which I share with my sister, for the first six months I lived here.Â Then, I discovered Tracie Oâ€™Brian andÂ startedÂ attending her weekly groups. Â At that time, I found the CENTER in Hillcrest â€“ what a godsend. I attended weekly meetings there until work prevented me from doing so. I miss the meetings, but I know there is a seat saved for me when I return….I hope!
Yet, you seem to have found your niche in the medical marijuana community.
Abby: Yes, my bosses at 6111 Constitutional Wellness Center are amazing! They understand that there are certain times when I have to leave work to go to clinics, pick up prescriptions, or to get my hormone injections. They are 100% behind me and plan to be there for me when I have my final surgery.
What is your favorite strain at your collective?
Abby: The Lemon OG Kush is by far my favorite. It quickly takes away the anxiety.
What is your reaction to the failure of Prop. 19?
Abby: I would have liked to see it pass. It did not escape me that so many people voted FOR the proposition. Itâ€™s only a matter of time before the language in future legislation changes to â€œallowâ€ a proposition like this to pass.