Veteran is Not “It,” “Shim” or “Impersonator”
Autumn Sandeen is an activist and a journalist, a really cool, smart, funny woman who I’ve had the pleasure of meeting at a couple conferences. She was also one of the six veterans who handcuffed themselves to the White House fence on April 20th to protest Obama’s slacking off on the repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell.
Autumn is a retired, disabled Fire Controlman, First Class Petty Officer who served in the Navy for twenty years. She is a Persian Gulf War Veteran who served on board the USS Gary (FFG-51) as a Close-In Weapons System technician during that war, and on board the USS Coronado when they received a Unit Commendation. Autumn was awarded a Navy Achievement Medal and a Gold Star for her service at Naval Station Long Beach’s Shore Intermediate Maintenance Activity.
Her military ID from the United States Uniformed Services and the Department of Veteran Affairs state Autumn’s name as Autumn Violet Sandeen. Autumn is transgendered.
When she and her fellow protesters where arrested, Autumn explained to the arresting officers that she is transgendered and is female identified. At first the identification bracelet she was given said female, but was later switched to male at the DC Superior Courthouse where United States Marshals referred to Autumn as “an impersonator,” and one female marshal said:
Did you see it? The nerve of it to be wearing a Navy uniform. Did you see the shim in the Navy Uniform?
WTF? Impersonator? It? Shim? How dare they! The use of those terms is the same as using racial and other hate-based slurs.
That representatives of the United States government would use such bigoted, offensive terms is a painful disgrace. This behavior towards Autumn–towards anyone who is a minority–makes me ashamed of my government’s sworn officers, of their ignorance, of their stupidity.
President Obama, I remember the words you spoke so clearly years ago when asked about whether you supported transgender inclusion in the Matthew Shepard Act and the Employment Non-Discrimination Act:
“Absolutely. The transgendered community has to be protected. I just don’t have any tolerance for that sort of intolerance. And I think we need to legislate aggressively to protect them.”
Well, Mr. President, you have a task ahead of you, because intolerance is right in your backyard at the DC Courthouse, wearing the badges of the US Marshals.