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75-Year-Old Trans Army Veteran Receives Medicare Funded Gender Reassignment: VIDEO

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Last May a panel of officials from the Department of Health and Human Services convened and decided that the department would, for the first time, include coverage for gender reassignment surgeries under Medicare. The decision came after Denee Mallon, a 75 year old army veteran, had her initial request to medically transition under Medicare denied. As a transwoman in her seventies, Mallon explained to the Health Department’s appeals board that she often felt as if ageism came into play when telling her story.

"When people ask if I am too old, it feels like they are implying that it's a 'waste of money' to operate at my age,” she explained. “But I could have an active life ahead of me for another 20 years."

In a recent MSNBC profile Mallon talks about her life as a transwoman seeking medical help at a time when trans-needs weren't well understood or accepted by the medical community. Like many trans-identified people, Mallon first began experiencing gender dysphoria at a relatively young age and fought to make sense of her situation for most of her life. Though she eventually came to identify as trans and sought to transition in the late-seventies, she was met with substantial social roadblocks.

Because Mallon still expressed interest in other women, her doctors reasoned, they would not approve of the surgeries they felt were elective. By the time Mallon attained the necessary doctor’s approval, she could no longer afford the surgeries. Months after the Health Department’s ruling, Mallon has finally had the surgery she’s fought for for decades.

“I feel congruent, like I’m finally one complete human being where my body matches my innermost feelings, my psyche,” she explained days after entering her post-surgery recovery. “I feel complete.”

Listen to Denee Mallon speak about her journey AFTER THE JUMP...

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Military Coup Fails To Overthrow Anti-Gay Gambian Government

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An early morning hostile attempt at seizing power from Gambian president Yahya Jammeh has been foiled, according to Agence France Presse. The unsuccessful military coup was led by a handful of members of Jammeh’s own personal guard who stormed the presidential palace around 0300 GMT.

At the time Jammeh was traveling abroad in Europe. Eye witnesses and army officials have confirmed accounts, saying that the insurgents were driven back by military gunfire.

Small outbursts of unrest have broken out in parts of Banjul, the country’s capital. In response to the fighting Gambian military officials have begun urging some civilians to remain in their homes and not go to work for the time being. Gambia’s borders with neighboring Senegal also appear to have been temporarily closed.

Jammeh made a name for himself after wresting control of Gambia’s government through a similar military coup in 1994. One of the most prominent features of Jammeh’s dictatorship-cum-presidency has been his staunch position to homosexuality.

Despite protestations from multiple Western nations that provide substantial international aid to Gambia, Jammeh has repeatedly reaffirmed his intentions of showing no mercy to Gambia’s LGBT population.


Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel's Holiday Message to Troops Features Gay Sailor Proposing to Boyfriend: VIDEO

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Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, joined by wife Lilibet, sent out a holiday message earlier this month that featured an image of sailor Jerrel Revels' proposal to his boyfriend Dylan Kirchner back in 2013. 

This is the first time a Secretary of Defense has included gay service members in a holiday message to troops. 

Watch, AFTER THE JUMP...

Hagel 

Last month, Hagel announced he would be stepping down as Defense Secretary. 

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Trans-Rights Activists Expect Swift Change on Military Service

RobinsonThough significant inroads have been made with lesbian, gay, and bisexual members of the U.S. military, there are still no technical protections on the books for service members who identify as transgender. Advocates like Allyson Robinson, however, are confident that the organizations like the Air Force are primed to set off a new trend in light of comments made by Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James. Earlier this month Secretary James encouraged a review of the Air Force’s current policies that prohibit transgender members from serving:

“I would be shocked if Secretary Hagel doesn’t take just a moment in the weeks that he has left in office to make good on a promise that he made to the troops. He needs to order the review,” said Robinson. “We have their commitment to do that — we have the commitment of Secretary Hagel himself to review these policies. And, I should add, I am aware, from my conversations with leaders at the Pentagon, that the secretary views this, views those words, as a promise, as a commitment to the service members.”

Officially the White House has yet to release a position on whether or not trans-identified individuals are welcomed in the armed forces. When asked however, spokespeople for the White House pointed Buzzfeed to the Department of Defense.

“I can confirm that for you that no review of the department’s policy has been ordered,” asserted Pentagon spokesman Nate Christensen. He later guided the press to Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel’s comments to The Washington Post this past May on Private Chelsea Manning in reference to his current thinking on the trans-service issue.

“I think that this period of Secretary Hagel — sort of, lame-duck period — represents that best opportunity that we’ve had so far to get [significant change] done,” Robinson explained, pointing to former Defense Secretary Leon Panetta’s action on same-sex benefits at the end of his military career.

“He did that, I think primarily, because he felt it was his responsibility to take care of his troops. He also did it out of a sense of collegiality to the person who was going to follow him. He took, what were seen by some as difficult or contentious issues, and took them off the table so that his successor would be able to start with a clean slate.”


Gay Veterans To March In Boston St. Patrick's Day Parade - VIDEO

St Patricks Day parade Boston 2015

Boston’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade will next year include representatives of gay veterans group OutVets, reports ABC News.

The parade’s organizers the South Boston Allied War Veterans Council, which in 1995 won a Supreme Court decision upholding their right to ban gay groups from the parade, yesterday voted 5-4 to allow OutVets to march in the parade scheduled for March 15th. The group has also been given permission to carry a blue banner with five white stars representing the branches of the military, and six vertical rainbow stripes.

6a00d8341c730253ef01a3fcce3e89970b-800wiBryan Bishop, OutVets founder and U.S. Air Force veteran, said:

"I think it's very significant. Ensuring that there is 100 percent inclusivity is important."

Council commander Brian Mahoney added that OutVets is being allowed to march because of their military service, not sexual orientation:

"This conforms to the tenets of the parade. The parade is devoted to honoring the service of veterans. It's is our aim to honor that service and the history of the Irish Catholics in Boston. Anything that detracts from that is verboten."

This year, LGBT group MassEquality was invited to take part in the parade but the invitation was later rescinded. Boston mayor Marty Walsh refused to take part last March because of the exclusion of LGBT people. Sam Adams beer also pulled out as sponsor of the parade.

In a similar move, Guinness dropped sponsorship of New York’s controversial St Patrick’s Day parade this year.

Watch Mahoney discuss his reasons for pulling out of the parade, AFTER THE JUMP...

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Check Out The Beautiful Story of Max Lenox, the Army Basketball Captain Raised By Two Gay Dads: VIDEO

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This week's Sports Illustrated has the moving and remarkable story of the captain of Army's basketball team and the two gay dads who raised him. Maxwell Lenox, 22, is a senior at West Point and though he's not the star player for the Black Knights, he's been voted captain two years running due to his exceptional leadership abilities and the way he inspires his teammates. “I’ll be lucky if I do half the stuff Max does, become half the leader he is,” says sophomore forward Tanner Omlid. “I want to be like him.”

Sports Illustrated, which made big news last year with Jason Collins' coming out cover, has posted this amazing story on their website, written by S.L. Price with candor, emotion, and a remarkable sense of how much the world has changed since Lenox's adoption. Lenox was born to a crack-addicted mother in Philadelphia in 1992, at the height of the urban drug epidemic. Just three days later, he was adopted by a couple from North Carolina who were eager to start a family: Dave Lenox and Nathan Merrell. Though they had reservations about the unknown challenges of raising a "crack-baby," the bigger problems turned out to be with Merrell's conservative family who was not too thrilled to find out all at once that he was gay, had a partner, and that they were grandparents to a black infant.

Lenox_merrellsIn the touching video which accompanies the story, Merrell struggles to relate how his father denied that Max was his grandchild while his mother, for the first time in her 36-year marriage, actually defied her husband. The whole story is filled with emotional moments like this as the couple faced many struggles raising Max, including Max's difficulties in school and a serious injury that derailed a potential pro career. Now, given how Max has become such a leader, the two dads are thrilled how things have turned out as there's talk their son might make general someday. A truly inspiring story.

Check out a video on Lenox and his dads, AFTER THE JUMP....

And for the full story on Max's incredible journey, head over to Sports Illustrated here

Continue reading "Check Out The Beautiful Story of Max Lenox, the Army Basketball Captain Raised By Two Gay Dads: VIDEO" »


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