My name is Syd and I'm new to Daily Kos as a diarist but not new to Progressive politics or causes. I organized a successful rally against SB5 in Ohio about a year and a half ago. I'm proud and happy that very wrong headed idea of Governor Kasich failed.
I am also the fiancee of a transgender Vietnam veteran in East Central Ohio. From experience I can tell you that there is very few LGBT friendly communities here and VA Region 10 Administration does not teach or enforce diversity to their employees and the state of Ohio has a great population of bigots. Ohio is a very beautiful state but the people are not so much. I am not saying all of the state is bad because it is not but it would be nice to see some change in the smaller cities and rural areas. WE CANNOT CHANGE THE LGBT COMMUNITY BUT WE CAN CHANGE THE MINDS OF BIGOTS!
My fiancee and I have been together for a wonderful four years but those four years have been a huge eye opener for me. Looking back now I realize that I pick up on signs of harassment I may not have noticed before. Not because I was closed minded but because I never realized how hateful people can be to an LGBT person without even saying a word.
One night here in Canton my fiancee and I were walking through Giant Eagle peacefully trying to shop. A man who was in the store stopped and pointed at my fiancee "Oh my god! What is that?" and laughed hysterically. Unfortunately for the man when my fiancee turned her back I went to teach this bigot a lesson in diversity and respect. I don't know if my words made him feel less macho or frightened him but you could tell that he was scared and embarrassed. I walked right up to this man and said “what is your problem? People do not have to bow down to you and fit into your life style. She cannot change who she is but you can change your way of thinking you ignorant asshole." I would be shocked to find that at least 10% of Cantons' population was Democrat or Liberal. (We live in the small township of Jackson Township which is mostly upper class and very conservative. My fiancee even has problems with the local police harassing her and us and ignoring her calls for respect.) There has been several times where we have been followed all around Giant Eagle by an officer just because he wanted to stare and smirk. Its a shame when a person cannot even trust a police officer to protect them.
The VA hospital and Community Outpatient Clinics here are some of the worst offenders when it comes to harassment towards the LGBT community. I cannot recall one time that we have had a peaceful experience at the VA. Sometimes I wonder how veterans can be so hateful towards their own just because they are exercising the FREEDOM to be who they are. The LGBT veterans served their country just like the heterosexual veterans did. WHATS THE DIFFERENCE? Many VA employees are rude towards the LGBT veterans. Its sad, very sad.
My fiancee cannot call the VA without being harassed. "What did you say your name was Sir?" She will correct them-"Ma'am its not Sir its Ms." And gets a snotty reply-"Sir I didn't understand what you said"(laughing heard in the background) Its always the same routine, "Can you confirm your address?", "Can you confirm your social security number?", "What did you say your name was again?" and there is always the "How do you spell your name? I don't think I am hearing you correctly.” We call it “Same shit, different day.”
The LGBT veterans really needs support from everyone out there. If you are one of those people who think LGBT people have it easy and that they need to stop complaining just try and walk around with one of them for a day. It will be a eye opener trust me.
We all need to pull together to help both our LGBT community and the LBGT Veterans community as well. They need help against Bigots and discrimination.