What Would You Do?

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Julianne Valentin
  • Pride Month Committee
Josie is a 9-year old child of an active duty Airmen. Josie loves dolls, dresses and having her long hair braided, however, there is one thing that separates her from girls her own age -- Josie was born as a boy and named Joey.

Prior to being Josie, she had an identity and gender that she did not feel as though she belonged. Through age 6, Josie felt like a little girl trapped inside the body of a boy. Before she was diagnosed with Gender Identity Disorder, or GID, Josie struggled as a child.

This disorder was included in a controversial Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, or better known as DSM IV, and is a diagnosis given to transgender and other gender-variant people to better understand it. It was considered a mental disorder, just as being homosexual was consider a mental illness prior to 1986. The diagnosis was frequently given to children who did not conform to expected gender norms in terms of dress, play or behavior. Children were often subjected to intense psychotherapy, behavior modification and/or institutionalization.

In December 2012, the term Gender Identity Disorder was removed from DSM IV and no longer considered a mental illness.

Before being recognized as Josie, she often became ill, deeply depressed and made extreme attempts to include self-harm to physically change the gender with which she most identified. When living as Joey, the young child's parents did not know what was wrong with their toddler, and innocently had Josie live as a boy.

As Josie grew older, encouraged to live as Joey, she became more vocal about what she wanted and developed the self-awareness and ability to express her desires to her parents. Fortunately for Josie, with the support of her parents, she was able to begin a lifestyle transition. Josie's parents recognized that their child was a "girl," despite the sex she had been assigned at birth.

Josie's parents accepted her and allowed her to attend school on a military base with a new name and identity.

Many transgendered youth often do not experience similar support from their families. Instead, many are disowned and become homeless, which may lead to drug and alcohol abuse, as well as sexual abuse and suicide. Hate crimes against the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community are most prevalent towards the transgender community, in particular male-to-female transgendered like Josie.

While many children accepted Josie's transition, some parents were not as supportive.

On military installations, where diversity is celebrated, we would like to believe that all are treated with dignity and respect.

In 2013, the Department of Defense celebrated its first Pride Month special observance. Military members of the LGB community and transgender civil service employees in the government were recognized. Currently, transgendered people are prohibited from serving in the military; however, the battle for equality to serve is clear.

Through recognizing the struggles of the LGBT community, Americans acknowledge the importance of inclusion and acceptance as a factor that makes us the strongest Air Force in the world.