Login

Ordinary Life

Olivia Jaramillo shares her story about what a typical day is like for a transgender woman serving openly in the United States Air Force.

Like most people, my internal clock always wakes me up before my alarm, and that would be 0529 or 0528 depending if I’m having an off wake up. Once my alarm sounds at 0530, like most people, I hit snooze. I hit snooze about three times, which then puts me waking up just before 0600. Unlike most people, right before I leave my bed I pump myself up for the day by saying how positive it will be and that I will not be called a “he” today, and how pretty and professional I will look and that everything is going to be alright.

I get out of bed, do some stretches, go pee, drink a full glass of water with my magic hormone and testosterone blocker pills and my biotin pill. I wash the grogginess off my face; assess my hair situation, which has finally reached the pixie stage. No more buzzed haircuts, no more number ones on the side and the back and clean up the top; my hair is free. I put on some deodorant, start boiling water in the kitchen, brush my teeth, put on my uniform, take the boiling water and put it in my French press, finish getting my hair done, apply my face morning routine which only in a very blue moon does it consist of more than moisturizer and an expensive youth “regenerating” tonic. I put on perfume, return to the kitchen, finish making my coffee, sit it by the stairs leading to the downstairs room, put on my combat boots, grab my coffee, get in my SUV, and off to work I go. It’s 0628.

“MAYBE I’M IN THE ‘HONEYMOON’ STAGE OF BEING ONE OF THE FIRST TRANSGENDER MEMBERS TO OPENLY TRANSITION WHILE SERVING. I’M EVERYONE’S CURIOSITY FOR NOW.”

It takes twenty minutes to get to work. Without traffic, I could be from door to door in fourteen minutes. When I show my Military ID to the security Policeman, they’re always polite, but the first name on the ID never matches what they see driving the vehicle, nonetheless they remain polite. Maybe I’m in the “honeymoon” stage of being one of the first transgender members to openly transition while serving. I’m everyone’s curiosity for now. It’s been three months since I changed my gender marker in Government databases, and now I’m waiting for a court date to plead before a judge to issue a court order granting my name change and gender change on my birth certificate.

I park my vehicle and head inside to my place of duty, which is the Medical facility on base. I manage one of the flights in one of the four squadrons that make up this Medical “Group”. I am sure my experience would be different if I were on the flight line turning a wrench or if I were security forces.

I log in to start my day and check my email. My boss gets in, and we review our agendas. She has my pronouns down perfectly. In fact, my whole Flight does too, except one person who has known me for 12 years and claims that it’s taking longer to adjust. People around the facility just refer to me by my rank and last name, instead of using a pronoun. I’m fine with it as long as I don’t get misgendered.

Throughout the day, I attend meetings, make decisions, structure flight logistics, review reports, attend teleconferences, all the non-fun things that someone in a management position does. I am a little nervous about a briefing I must give soon to a room full of Commanders. I make a note to start preparing slides for that.

Like most people, I work thru lunch, and I don’t eat (More on eating another time).

My Squadron Superintendent drops off taskers; he’s another individual who after three months still says “he”. I’ve repeatedly stated that he being a public and respected figure, misgendering me demeans who I was permitted to be openly by the Government. I cut him slack because he’s been a huge advocate, helping me research regulations and ensuring my “set in his ways” Commander was open to approve my gender change.

“I’D RATHER STAY AT WORK THAN GO HOME TO AN EMPTY HOUSE. TRANSITIONING HAS BEEN A LONELY JOURNEY.”

Everyone starts going home. I normally stay because my boss stays. She is a workaholic, and I don’t mind staying; I don’t have anything better to do at home. I’d rather stay at work than go home to an empty house. Transitioning has been a lonely journey. I love leaving late because there’s no one around, the parking lot is empty and I don’t feel self-conscious about anything. On my drive home, I sing, put on rejuvenating hand lotion so my “man hands” aren’t as bad. Take my headband and bobby pin off, put on my sunglasses and relax. By this time, I am exhausted. Exhausted from being self-conscious, paranoid about my appearance and what people may think (another thing to explore later).

Home is located in a suburb north of Salt Lake City. I want to sell this house and move into the city. Utah’s capital is recognized as one of the most liberal cities in the country, and I feel more comfortable there than around picket-fenced houses, ultra-religious conservative families of six or seven. I take my uniform off, slip into workout clothes, exercise, shower, play piano, or read. Dinnertime comes and goes, put on some night cream, brush my teeth, and off to bed to look at social media for an hour or so.

See? Not so scary after all. I am a transgender woman who decided to serve her country eighteen years ago, and I still enjoy some aspects of it. People at first, I can tell, don’t know how to take me, but a bright smile and some kindness along with professionalism always shows them that I am just another Airman serving in the Air Force. It has been liberating to begin transitioning, but I know there are still many challenges coming, I am possibly tasked for a deployment soon; that should be interesting.

false