Right off the high board into the deep end
I thought I was dipping my toes into the shallow end of the pool, but somehow I had managed to make it to the highest diving board and before I knew it, I’d jumped (or stumbled) off the edge right into the deep end.
Since COVID-19 had put a damper on almost all activities during Junes Pride month, I thought it might be a bit of a bust. I’d been hoping for so much this year; attending functions, doing presentations etc. Oh well, I’d settle for the approval to have the Pride Rainbow flag raised for a second year (asked for a week, the Wing Commander said “it’s Pride month. Leave it up for the month.”) and maybe the Transgender Flag for the last couple day. We ended up having it fly for the last week of June. That last request and action, the raising of Transgender flag for the very first time, led to an interesting week.
I was working the night shift, but expressed female on the morning of Tuesday 23 June. Headed over to the main gate at 0730 to meet up with a few folks and the Wing Commander (WComd). After a few words from myself and the boss, up went the flag with notes and pictures being taken by the base newspaper, The Aurora. Those pictures appeared later that day on the papers Facebook page along with a write-up. I hadn’t said too much as what was important had appeared the day before in an article I had submitted for the weekly printed version of the paper. I was amazed to see the response and number of shares of that small Facebook post.
The next day, Wednesday 24 June, I got home at 0830 from my last light. At 1230 I got a text from my wife saying that the Wings Public Affairs Officer (WPAO) wanted to know if I was available for a radio interview with the WComd and CBC Radio Halifax. Oh! Umm, I hadn’t told her about doing the flag raising…(by the way nothing has been said…).
So anyway, I call him and its’ short notice; can I be in the WComd office in 60 mins? “Yes” I said with not much thought or angst. I got there at 1315 and we talk about a few things and I learned he had canceled another scheduled teleconference call in favor of this interview as he flelt it was an important message to get out. At 1330 we both got calls on our cellphones and the interview commenced. I was more nervous listening to the show later that afternoon than I was doing the actual interview, but it all went very well. This was though, me, outing myself regionally, Nova Scotia, as a bigender military member under the transgender umbrella. We talked about the flag, support from the Wing, Positive Space ambassadors and yep, I’m transgender!
A printed version was posted on the CBC news site and on the CBC Halifax’s Facebook, which also got great responses. As is typically, there are some negative comments, but one could also tell that some people hadn’t read or listened to the whole article.
The next afternoon I received a text from the WPAO saying “you’re valley famous”. “What now?” I reply. Turns out one of the local valley radio stations picked up the news item and reported on it too. WOW. I quickly texted the kids to let them know in case they had any friends that might have heard and had questions. Again, only positive responses had been seen by a couple of them.
At work too, those who had heard it only had praise and I’ve received notes of appreciation from complete strangers on FB. As a good friend, Nata, and I took down the flag at the end of the day on the 30th, we were joined again by the WComd. It is absolutely fantastic to have the Colonels full support for those like myself and all Defence team members who work on the Wing. He also passed on a greeting and message of support from a Brigadier General who had been my Squadron CO and also a Greenwood WComd in the past.
Thinking back on last week now it seems like a dream. All this time, I’ve slowly allowed my female expression to trickle out and was never one for the spotlight. The newspaper editor and I had a good working relationship; my male name might appear in the text because of what I had said, but it never appeared alongside a picture of me while expressing female. Well, don’t have to worry about that anymore…lol. And I found myself fully illuminated by that spotlight I had avoided.
All is good at home. Nothing said. I’m glad I didn’t say no. It was/is an important message of support and inclusion that needed to be shown.
I am proud to serve, proud of who I am.
- Posted in: The Early Years