Join date: Mar 17, 2022


My story so far is almost 72 years long. It is different from most of your stories. I was born in 1950, the first of six children. I was named after my father. From an early age, I felt different. It wasn’t until I was in my sixties that I admitted it, but I digress. I am a transgender woman and a Navy veteran.

I grew up just outside of Ithaca, New York, on the old family farm where my Dad had grown up. Being the oldest, I was also the firstborn to my Mom and Dad. I went to the last one-room schoolhouse for first grade, the same one my Dad and his brother had gone to. The next year it closed and became part of the Ithaca City School District. That is probably too much detail, so I will move along.

My hometown, Ithaca, is a university and college town. I was exposed to many cultures and nationalities as my grandparents had a huge house near Cornell University. They rented rooms to Ivy Leaguers. As a kid, I was involved in Cub Scouts and Boy Scouts, as were three of my brothers. I love the outdoors and nature.

Leaping ahead a bit, I graduated high school in 1969. Before graduation, I joined the Naval Reserve. My uncle, who was a Navy Master Chief, suggested it as it would give me more control over my near future. My eventual goal was college. My family couldn’t afford my going to college so I chose the Navy. I went to Great Lakes for Bootcamp and then after a few months back home attending weekend reserve drills, I went to Great Lakes again for electronics school. At the time, my uncle was in charge of the Class A electronics school at Great Lakes. That helped inspire me to excel. I would spend many weekends at his home with my cousins, who were a year younger than me.

After graduation from Class A School, I drilled at the reserve center for a couple of months waiting for orders for active duty. By then, I was an E-4 petty officer, ET3. I went to NYC Brooklyn Naval Station to start my active duty. I got orders for the new ship, USS Shreveport, LPD-12. It was being built in Washington State. I connected with the crew in Norfolk, VA. For three months, we had training in fire fighting and I was sent to more schools for various types of radios and navigation gear. In December 1970, most of the crew flew out to Seattle, Washington for commissioning. I was sent to San Diego, along with other members of the ET gang, for more schooling and training. We met the ship in San Diego in February 1971. We then went on our shakedown cruise to the equator, then Acapulco, showing the flag. We transited the Panama Canal. In March, we arrived in New Orleans and spent several days there, during Mardi Gras. After that, we went to Roosevelt Roads in Puerto Rico and then on to GTMO to finish our shake down cruise. We then went to our homeport of Norfolk. I served on her until I got an honorable discharge in August of 1972, to go to college. I saw France, Denmark, England, Portugal, the Azores, much of the Caribbean, and Columbia. I am probably going into too much detail.

I served in the Naval Reserve until 1975. I graduated from Cornell University in Ithaca with a bachelor’s degree in biology. The next few decades flew by. I got married, went to graduate school, and got my master’s at Drexel University. We raised two wonderful kids and I worked for over 30 years in the State University of New York as a librarian and library director. In 2012, I started work as a contractor for the USAF managing a research library. I am still there.

In the late 1990s and early 2000s, I started having depression and anxiety attacks. I had been dealing with my gender issues and my mother passed away which added to the stress. I had kept this secret side of me hidden from the world for many decades. It all came to head when my father passed away in 2016. I went into a deep funk and major depression. I started finding more opportunities to dress in secret. My gender issues started affecting my marriage. In 2018, I became suicidal. Fortunately, I contacted a suicide hotline for the trans community. In May 2018, I came out to my family. It did not go well. I moved out and have been out fully as my true self since then.

Branwen Drew

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