05 July 2009

Don't Ask, Don't Tell (10th anniversary of PFC Winchell's death)

As I spent this past 4th of July weekend, most of it driving to/from Denver, I was reminded of one sad anniversary. This is the tenth anniversary of the savage death of PFC Barry Winchell. Winchell had been dogged by rumors about a gay relationship he supposedly had, and of course, the rule Don't Ask, Don't Tell was in effect at the time (as it is today).

The media did not understand, and did not know, how to handle this matter, because Winchell's relationship was with a pre-operative transwoman. Of course, it's none other than Calpernia Addams, who, now post-op, is now in Los Angeles and my friend. People couldn't even agree on whether to consider Calpernia a woman that she really was, or a man by reason of physical anatomy, and this was important, because this would determine whether Winchell's relationship was gay or straight.

This senseless tragedy was a clear reminder that transpeople are out there, and are NOT going away, and as long as that is the case, homophobic legislations like DADT and Defense of Marriage Act will have problems standing. Such legislations assume a clear delineation between men and women, but in reality, such clear delineation is wishful thinking.

This tragedy completely destroyed Calpernia's privacy, and outed her completely. She pretty much lost the option of living a stealth life and blending into the society. However, this only made her stronger; she's presented herself in the Winchell matter and well beyond with composure and dignity. I am very grateful to her for that - and for showing a very dignified face of the transgender community. Calpernia has since moved on to a more fulfilling, productive life in her own right, and now asks that people do NOT bring up the issue of PFC Winchell, as it's such a painful chapter of her past.

This reminds me - I need to get back to Calpernia's memoir, Mark 947, and start reading it. But the memoir deals with many other painful issues, and PFC Winchell is just one of many that scar her life. I don't think I'm ready to deal with all the theocratic negativity and other things yet. In fact, I may never be ready.

And I must join Calpernia, the surviving family of PFC Winchell, and many others in demanding that DADT be replaced by a much more sensible policy - one that allows openly gay servicemembers, and punishes soldiers solely on actual misconduct. I also find it appalling that a talented Arabic/Persian/Korean translator, Lt. Dan Choi, has been discharged under DADT, and even more appalling that the far-right theocratic Korean-American community will NEVER even allow a fair discussion of Choi and his issues.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Nice Post