Trans American Military Stories 

BY Diane Anderson-Minshall

September 21 2011 5:00 AM ET

AUTUMN SANDEEN 560x AND GET EQUAL WHITE HOUSE (GETTY) ADVOCATE.COM

Calahan Miller 

Age: 48  

Served: Army, September
1983 to January 1986. Completed Basic Training and AIT School for Light Wheeled
Vehicle and Power Generator Mechanic (MOS: 63B) at Ft. Jackson, SC. First Duty
Assignment: B Company, 141st Signal Battalion, 1st Armored Division, Barton
Barracks, Ansbach, Germany. Last
assignment: HHC USAEPG, Ft. Huachuca, Arizona. Honorable Discharge with
the rank of E-4 (Specialists).

Now: Lives in Los Angeles and is on disability
for obsessive compulsive disorder and generalized anxiety disorder.

Home life: Miller has been with a partner for
nearly a decade, and the two helped raise her son (who is now an adult). 

 Why the military? “I wanted to serve in the military primarily
because I grew up as an Air Force brat, so the military life is what I knew. I
knew I could get money for college and I knew I could travel. When I signed up
I requested an overseas assignment in Europe.”

 
Did you know you were trans when you signed up? “I struggled with my gender identity beginning at
the age of 15. I didn't know the term transgender until, in 1994, I was
introduced to an FTM through a co-worker. When I got my first home computer in
1999, I began exhaustive research,” says Miller, who began his transition in
2001, when he was 37. “While I was in the Army, when I was in uniform, on duty,
my gender was more androgynous. In uniform we were not so much male or female
as we were all soldiers.” The only time Miller wasn’t just a soldier was when
the servicemembers were required to wear their formal “dress greens” — which
meant females wore skirts. “Ugg, I hated that,” he laughs.

Gender in the military:
“My job as a mechanic. Working in the motor pool was a non-traditional
job for a female. While I worked I didn't have the constant reminder of my
body's gender, while I worked I felt male. Out of uniform, off duty, was
another thing,” recalls Miller, who struggled with gender issues on a
day-to-day basis because he was living as a lesbian and in a lesbian
relationship. “Additionally, because I was a military service member and ‘a
lesbian’ I had to keep my personal life a secret, by not acknowledging it and
outright lying about it. All the while hating that I was stuck in the female
body, because if I had been born in the right body and been the man I knew I
was then I wouldn't have to hide and lie about who I loved.”

Will trans people ever be allowed to serve in the military? “I do not think the Armed Services will ever allow
transgender soldiers as long as being trans is classified as Gender Identity
Disorder, or Gender Dysphoria, a mental illness or medical disorder, listed in
the DSM-IV.”

Most memorable time in the service: The good and the bad. The bad: the investigation into Miller’s relationship
with a female service member. “I had met and began a relationship with a
soon-to-be-divorced woman at my first duty station. Her soon-to-be ex-husband
had found some letters written by me to her and set out on a mission to destroy
us. They launched an investigation and tried to pursue criminal charges. 
Luckily the contents of my letters where vague and therefore not proof of any
transgressions, and so it was dropped because all they had was the accusations
of a scorned ex-husband.”







And the good: “I really liked the military; I liked my job,
I liked the structure and routine of the military. I was in great physical
shape, and more often than not felt comfortable in my skin.”

Would he do it all over again?
“Yes,” he says emphatically. “I would.”

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