Steve Ralls

Michigan to Mongolia

Filed By Steve Ralls | May 28, 2008 5:00 PM | comments

Filed in: Fundie Watch, Living, Media, Transgender & Intersex
Tags: Calpernia Addams, Don't Ask Don't Tell, Elaine Donnelly, military

Elaine Donnelly, meet Calpernia Addams. Her hair is more fabulous than yours, her pearls are real . . . and, oh yes, she can kick your ass from Michigan to Mongolia.

Calpernia is also - in addition to being a star of the stage and screen - living proof that your latest rant about who should and shouldn't be wearing our nation's uniform makes about as much sense as putting a pastel pink Chanel knock-off on a woman with your skin tone.

But now that we have the unfortunate photographic evidence that you have unsuccessfully tried the latter, we must turn our attention to proving our point about the former. And so, after the jump, let's take a look at one person's efforts to save the passengers of a downed plane . . . and another's desperate struggle to revive her credibility, which is also going down in flames.

On the one hand, we have Addams who, we learned this week, was instrumental in treating the passengers of a downed Chinese airplane when it crashed, on a remote island in Alaska, in 1993. Addams, who was serving as a medic in the Navy at the time, was treating passengers, administering trauma care and saving lives. As Lt. Col. John G. Bunch remembered it, the Navy personnel who responded to the flight "improvised, cutting backboards out of plywood and using light stands for I.V. stands."

And it wasn't the first, or only, heroic effort Addams undertook while serving in the Navy. As a member of the Navy Hospital Corps, Calpernia spent four years as a field medical combat specialist (HM 8404) in the Navy and with the Marines, one of the elite combat-trained "Devil Docs" during the first Gulf War. And she served in Al-Jubail, Saudi Arabia during Desert Storm/Shield.

In other words, I reiterate, she could kick almost anyone's ass.

And it never mattered - and still doesn't - what Calpernia's gender identity was or is. She was a skilled, professional service member who was saving people's lives.

Which brings me back to Elaine.

Last week, following the Ninth Circuit ruling that the military must (gasp!) show a valid reason for dismissing service members beyond the mere fact that they are who they are - Elaine ran to her keyboard, mustered up her best drag king impersonation of Peter LaBarbera and declared the court's decision an act of "extreme judicial activism."

"Once again," Elaine screamed from her balcony on the Casa O'Spare-Us, "the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals has proven that federal judges are not competent to run the military."

So you wanna talk about military credentials, Ms. Donnelly?

Sorry, girlfriend, but your glass house just came a'crashin' down.

A look at her online bio reveals that Do-Little-Donnelly "attended the University of Detroit and Schoolcraft College" and "resides in Livonia, Michigan with her husband, Terry, and is the mother of two grown daughters."

Now, I'll agree that virtually every mother in America deserves a badge, a medal and a salute for their service. But when you stack Elaine's resume up against, say, Calpernia's (or Major Witt, the plaintiff in the Ninth Circuit case), the scales aren't just tipped . . . they're no longer even floatin' in the same time zone. To compare Elaine's service to (or for) the military with that of Witt or Addams is like comparing the Cashmere Mafia to the Gottis.

That is, one is steeped in reality while the other is already-defunct scripted screeds that were, in their heyday, made only occasionally entertaining with the help of a costume and make-up designer.

In fact, Donnelly's whole diatribe is rooted in Disney'esque fantasy. Neither sexual orientation nor gender identity has ever hindered a service member's ability to get the job done.

Just ask a few of the people on that downed Chinese airplane.

So it's time for Elaine to spare us her "pearls" of wisdom, and keep her bigotry to herself. Because the real act of "extreme activism" - besides that ghastly pink pant suit - is giving your homo-and-transphobia a higher priority than saving some lives.

And that's a truth Elaine can take with her on her way from Michigan to Mongolia.

(Note: Even though the Witt ruling applied to 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell,' which does not specifically mention gender identity, transgender service personnel are barred from the armed forces under medical regulations, which Donnelly also supports, but which should also be repealed or modified to allow transgender troops to serve our country, as they do in many allied militaries.)

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Great post, Steve! Calpernia is such an amazing woman- something Elaine will never be.

She's wonderful. You might also want to introduce Elaine to Diane:

And ask her - why should my & this country's security be placed assigned a lower value than your bigotry?

Thanks again, Steve. I have always respected you, but with this, you have out-done yourself. Bravo-Zulu.

Just to give you a heads up, the survey we finished is being analyzed by the Palm Center. Seven people who took the survey were kicked out under DADT. Over 300 say that someone asked if they were gay, while over 100 were questioned by their commanding officer. Over 40 took the survey while still in and ten said they were in a combat zone when they took the survey.

Yeah, we served, and proudly. And, we are all proud of Calpernia and her service to our country.

Robert Ganshorn Robert Ganshorn | May 29, 2008 3:35 AM

As my partner flew jets, "when ducks would walk," his respect for military medics knows no bounds. Once, during a flight safety check (as he was base safety officer) on a newly serviced plane, he crashed with his plane as it did an immediate dive upside down upon takeoff, and ended up in hospital (lucky to be alive) and rehab for six months. He cannot say enough about the medics. They are heroes. They have to deal with the aftermath of "valor."

One of the consistent themes about the peeps who rail about GLBT people in the military is the fact that many of them didn't serve a day in the military themselves.

Once again, thanks to SeaMonica, Calpernia and all GLBT vets who served this country with distinction and pride.

For our international readers, if you're GLBT and served in your nation's military, thank you as well.

Steve Ralls Steve Ralls | May 29, 2008 8:38 AM

You are too, too kind, Monica! It is the brave LGBT service members and veterans - like you, Calpernia and the many other vets who have sacrificed so much - who deserve all the credit and thanks. I'm just appreciative of the opportunity to help tell your stories and point out your bravery to the public. :-)

And yes, Kathy, I have actually met Diane. She is AMAZING, and such a fighter in every sense of the word. I had the opportunity to sit down with her while I was working with Servicemembers Legal Defense Network, and she was so inpsiring, courageous and just terrific!

Steve, SeaMonica served. The closest I came to it was hearing military jargon in the airline industry.

But I do have a deep appreciation for the people who served and the sacrifices they've made. I have had at least one member of my extended family serve in every war this country has fought from World War II to Iraqinam as one cousin is doing now.

There are many transpeople I personally know who served like Calpernia. in addition to SeaMonica, my best friend is a Gulf War vet who flew combat missions from a carrier deck. I have another girl I know who was a Navy Seal during that same conflict. In my old gender group in Houston one of the members of it was a Vietnam War Tunnel Rat.

Thre are hundreds of stories similar to that in TAVA, the Transgender American Veterans Association. The sereved and with honor and distinction.

That's more than I can say for the cowards who are hiding behing Scripture to not only attack us, but destroy our nation's constitution that these veterans put their lives an the line to protect and defend.

Based on the time they served, 4 people who took our survey served during WWII.

Calpernia rules
Elaine drools

Great posting just back from some vaction time so catching up.I worked for Department of Defense so I woked along side the folks in uniform and trust me I know several vets who are now openly gay and lesbian who could still kick these loud mouths in there rear ends.