USAF Discharge (1991)

A short narrative about the following documents:

I entered an enlistment in the United States Air Force in June 1990. During basic training I was assigned to the Drum and Bugle Corps. Afterward, I was stationed at Lowry AFB, in Colorado for Space Systems Electronics Training.

During my stay at Lowry, I visited a base counselor because my new wife and I were having troubles at home. She “outed” me to the counselor. He was actually a kind and respectful man. This is an issue I would not discuss because it embarrassed me and I still didn’t know what exactly was going on inside me.

I was assigned to Holloman AFB, in Alamogordo, NM. My new position required elevated security clearance from “SECRET” to “TOP SECRET”. After reading over the security application I noticed on the last page: “I, the undersigned, certify this application to be void of derogatory information”.

I read over the last page again and found a section which read, “Derogatory information includes but is not limited to pedophilia, sexual assault, fetishism, transvestism, homosexuality…”.

I put off returning the application for weeks until it was demanded of me sometime later. I didn’t want to out myself, but I couldn’t legally sign the application. What was worse, to certify that no derogatory information existed and to be found guilty of perjury, or to refuse to sign and be discharged.

I was a lose-lose scenario for me. They ordered me to a psychiatrist, tested and interviewed me for hours, removed my clearance, and eventually, they had what they wanted.

A few things in this document bother me:

  1. I am not a transvestite. From what I had seen on day television, that was the term that most closely identified me. However, at the time, I had never even heard of gender identity disorder or even the term transsexual. That is how they labeled me, but I did not have the knowledge or the vocabulary to refute their assertions.
  2. My rank of E3, of which I had been wearing for weeks, received pay for and was clearly noted on my leave and earnings statement, is never referred to. It was if I was demoted as well. I just discovered, however, that at the end of page 36, my correct rank is noted as AIC (Airman 1st Class) Aldridge.
  3. A section reads that I “…wanted to leave the service as soon as possible.” This is not true. I wanted to stay, but the choice given me, as my wife was pregnant, was to process the discharge quickly so she could give birth in our home state, or drag the discharge out until after the birth. I expressed my desire for the former. Reality was the latter.
  4. My supposed “behavioral disorders” of passive aggressive behavior were assigned as a diagnosis because I was hesitant to discuss my personal feelings with the psychiatrists.