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OutServe Magazine | April 21, 2014

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About Brynn Tannehill

Brynn Tannehill

Brynn Tannehill

Brynn Tannehill was a SH-60B and P-3C pilot with 10 years of active duty service. A Naval Academy graduate, she left the reserves in 2010 as a lieutenant commander and is currently a contractor at the 711th Human Performance Wing in Dayton, Ohio. Brynn provides OutServe Magazine an experienced transgender voice.

Posts By Brynn Tannehill

Me, the ACA and Transgender Coverage

July 7, 2012 | Comments

by Brynn Tannehill

As I transitioned, health care coverage has truly been a trip through the looking glass. When I started the process, I worked for a company which had health benefits that extended to same sex partners.  It also covered many transition related expenses such as labs for hormone levels, Gender Identity Disorder (GID) related doctor and therapist visits, surgeries related to a sex change, and hormone therapy.

However, my luck ran out at about the same time I fully transitioned.  The next company I went to did not offer any benefits to same sex partners.  It will not cover any GID related medical coverage.  This has led to some very odd work-arounds to ensure my family has benefits.  My driver’s license, passport, DEERS information, CAC card, and company records say I am female.  All of my wife’s documentation says she is female.  However, I had to prove my marriage is NOT same-sex by providing a joint 1040 form and my Florida marriage license to the benefits department. At my doctor’s office, they are re-coding my records as female so they can use non-GID related codes for my appointments, labs, and prescriptions for hormones.

In other words, I have to be legally both male and female at any given time, depending on who is looking at that moment.

Read More

Transition Advice

July 2, 2012 | Comments

By Brynn Tannehill

Brynn Tannehill

Like everyone in the military, at some point I had to leave. Transitioning from military life to civilian is hard enough. Transitioning genders at the same time adds a degree of difficulty that even Greg Louganis would cringe at. I left active duty in 2008 after 10 years in the service. I left the reserves in 2010 as Lt. Cmdr. Bryan Tannehill. Less than two years later I was Brynn Tannehill, civilian defense contractor.  Somehow, despite all the horror stories within the trans community, I managed to stay continuously employed, stay married, and maintain most of the relationships that mattered most to me.

Some of this good fortune was due to sheer, dumb luck. The fact that I am still married and still hopelessly in love is mostly due to the resilience, intelligence, and adaptability of my spouse. Some of it is due to the work I put in to make sure I was making good decisions along the way. Good planning, and good decisions, had the most to do with why I am still employed. Since almost everyone in the military who gets out has to find a job at some point, tips on how to handle your transition at work seems to be the most generally applicable place to start. Finding a spouse who will stick around for your transition is all on you.

Here are my thoughts and advice: Read More

The Invisible T: At Columbus Pride

June 29, 2012 | Comments
Brynn Tannehill is a 1997 U.S. Naval Academy graduate, former Lieutenant Commander helicopter pilot, and a fully transitioned transgender woman. She has a wife and two loving children.

By Brynn Tannehill

Brynn Tannehill

Most LGBT members of the military have spent the majority of their lives learning to blend in with the crowd.  Prior to military service we hid our orientation or gender identity.  We all learned in basic training that standing out was a bad thing.  We all tried to blend to some degree before the end of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell. Many still keep up the act for the sake of their careers.

When we come out, though, the experiences of lesbians and gays begin to diverge from those who transition between genders. While both groups experience turmoil in terms of their friendships and family as they come out, transsexuals are faced with the daunting task of learning to be themselves and blending in again as a member of the opposite sex at the same time.

It may seem as though being true to yourself shouldn’t require trying to blend in. Attempting to conform would seem to suggest a lack of authenticity. This is not the case for transgender individuals, though. For a transitioning person taking steps to match your self-image to societal norms is the standard treatment for dysphoria, necessary for having proper legal paperwork, a must for securing decent employment, protects against violently transphobic individuals, and is essential for general acceptance in society.

Transition requires coming out and all the slings and arrows associated with it. Today, it also means leaving the military whether you want to or not. It means learning overnight all the cultural norms that others learned through osmosis over decades of their life. There is hormone replacement therapy and lots of painful surgery. For MTFs there are hundreds of hours of electrolysis and voice training. The total cost can run upwards of $75,000 just for the chance to be true to yourself and also be treated as a human being and not an ‘it’.  This end state of being seen as your target gender is the holy grail of transitioning, and is simply referred to as “passing”.

It is not right. It is not fair. It is what it is, however. The stereotype of looking like a linebacker in a house dress endures, along with the consequences.

It is also why I didn’t come to pride events until I finished transitioning and felt I had some ability to blend. Read More

Introducing OutServe Magazine’s Transgender Voice

June 28, 2012 | Comments
Brynn Tannehill is a 1997 U.S. Naval Academy graduate, former Lieutenant Commander helicopter pilot, and a fully transitioned transgender woman. She has a wife and two loving children.

Editor’s Note: Brynn Tannehill joins the OutServe Magazine team with the posting of this introduction. She will be writing from the perspective of a transgender former military officer. Stay tuned for a series of consecutive posts from her scheduled to hit at 9am EST every day for the next few days. When she volunteered to write for us, I asked her if she would generate a “trans FAQ” for the magazine. OutServe Magazine and our blog, here, aim to be inclusive of the T in LGBT. But even within our collective community, we could use at least a crash course in the terminology associated with transgender issues. I would like to personally thank Brynn for her openness with her experiences, her patience as she teaches me about the plethora of issues she has faced through her life, and for my newfound friendship with her. ~David Small. OS Magazine Blog Editor.

By Brynn Tannehill

Brynn Tannehill

I grew up with divorced parents and Mormon father. Given the unyielding dictates of the religion, I knew I was in deep trouble if I ever mentioned that I didn’t feel like a boy, or that when I saw beautiful women I wished I was them. What made it even more confusing for me was that I was also attracted to women.  I had no way of knowing at the time that sexual orientation and gender identity are separate.

I was, however, certain of what my religion had to say about me and my “urges”. As a result, I ran from what I had found by adopting the most hyper-aggressive, right wing, über-masculine persona I could dream up. It worked, too. Most people were completely shocked when I came out as a transsexual 20 years later.

My solution to both my desire to be a pilot and to cure my “wickedness” was by being even more fanatically dedicated to going to an academy. I threw myself into everything, and worked myself to exhaustion in the myriad of things I did in and out of school. There was never a spare moment in a day for me. Overachieving also meant I didn’t have to keep thinking about what I was running from.

I went to the Naval Academy, and while there I was driven to get a pilot billet. Read More