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Newsworthy EventIamA the first openly transgender graduate from West Point and recently discharged from the military. AMA!

Jul 16th 2017 by Ms_Riley_Guprz • 22 Questions • 147 Points

My name is Riley Dosh, and I graduated this past May. Although I met all the requirements for commissioning, I was instead discharged by the Pentagon. I was featured recently in USA Today, the NYT, and the BBC.

Verifcation Pic <- 7 weeks HRT if you're curious

I'll check in from time to time to answer any more questions/PMs. Otherwise I'll be off playing Euro Truck 2 or something

Q:

How did your fellow cadets treat you after you came out?

A:

In person, pretty good. Even some of the more conservatives ones made humorous attempts to ask me about my dress.

Anonymously and on social media, pretty horrible. Take all the worst comments you see here and multiple it by ten.


Q:

Given the chance to do it over, would you have postponed your transition?

A:

My transition was postponed actually until I left the military. I tried starting as a cadet and that's what prompted the whole issue. It was my diagnosis of gender dysphoria that caused me to be [honorably] discharged.

Although to answer your question, no I would not have waited on coming out. I wanted my classmates to remember me by who I really am, for better or for worse. Had I hid, I would've come out cynical and depressed.

EDIT: and by "tried as a cadet" I mean I tried to have it approved. I didn't start any hormones until I graduated.


Q:

Congrats, I'm sure going to Westpoint was an incredible opportunity! My first question might be a bit cliche, but what advice would you have for someone that is really starting to question their gender and has been putting serious thought into transitioning? And secondly, just out of curiosity, what branch of the military would you have gone into, had you not been discharged? Thanks in advance!

A:

I'll answer the military branch first because it's easier.

Cadets from West Point commission into the the Army. In my case, it would've been the Air Defense Artillery branch of the Army. It's like the Naval academy and Air Force academy. West Point is called the military academy simply because it came first. Although some cadets do cross-commission into other branches. I have a friend that became a Marine officer, and there's usually one every other year that joins the Navy in hopes of becoming a SEAL.

Advice for someone questioning, I'm going to word it in the second person: simply put, nobody can make that decision to transition or not, except you. It's entirely personal and entirely up to you. It's not an easy path either, far from it, but it has its rewards. It comforted me to know that there are transgender individuals that don't transition either, and that I have options to live my life how I want to live it. If you like wearing dresses, regardless of your gender, wear dresses. If you want to wear a suit and tie, wear it. It doesn't have to conform to your identity and visa versa. You may not really mind the pronouns you currently use, but you might using the other pronouns a whole lot more, who knows?

It wasn't until I met another transgender woman (my own age) and saw how alike we were and that I fully identified with being trans. The advice she gave me was that at some point you just learn to not give a fuck what other people think about you. Even being trans I dress boyishly (exhibit A: my pic) because that's what I'm comfortable wearing. I just so happen to prefer female pronouns as well. That advice seemed silly to me in the beginning but it's made a lot more sense as I've gone out in public more. Hopefully that helps.


Q:

That does help a lot, and give me some more to think about, thank you! And I wasn't aware thats how it worked, all I really know about West Point is it's a military academy xD I was thinking of joining the Army myself, once I get my GED. Would they discharge me or keep me from joining if I was transitioning or had transitioned?

A:

Well you know that West Point is a military academy so that's more than my high school guidance department.

With the current policy, you would simply be barred from joining, in the same way that I was. Hopefully that changes next year. It was supposed to happen by July 1st but was postponed 6 months.


Q:

Will your case be setting a precedent for how trans people are treated by the military?

A:

Yes and no, and it already has. In all other cases, medical waivers are considered on a case-by-case basis. For this, mine and the Air Force cadet (and I think a ROTC cadet)'s medical waivers were decided as a blanket-case. They denied all of us because they didn't want to just let one through.

Further, but lesserso, it should clarify the legal standing of cadets. Technically service academy cadets are active duty and if they earn an honorable discharge as a cadet (like I was), they're officially a veteran. So while the transgender policy was supposed to cover all active duty, cadets were left out because there's a contention between treating them as basic-trainees or active-service.

As for how this might affect other transgender service members? I'm not really sure it will have much impact. The policy is already in place and it isn't going to change anytime soon. My classmates that are joining the Army soon will have their impression of transgender service largely based on me. If I get discharged for it, the more conservatives ones might take that as a license to treat their transgenders soldiers shittily. Hopefully that's not the case.


Q:

How would you describe your experience at West Point?

A:

Honestly I didn't mind it as much as a lot of people. Parts about it suck, but it's mostly great because you can rely on everyone around you.

EDIT: I actually want to come back to this for a second because I have a lot more feelings wrapped up about my experience there than a few sentences can explain.

I met some of the best people in this world there. I also met some of the worst people. I've seen rapists graduate and also people kicked out for the stupidest of things. There are massive highs and lows there, but just about everyone is extremely capable and self-driven. Although I can't say much about the cadets that ate C4 a few days ago...

EDIT2: I just now realized you may have been asking how my experience being trans at West Point. It's much the same as above, with the highs and lows; mostly lows. I was not allowed to wear female clothes on post (which is everywhere since there isn't much off-post) and no makeup ever, also keeping my hair short. It was simply part of the male regs that I had to follow, and it sucked. There were very little places I could go to be me and so it was incredibly stifling in that regard.


Q:

Can you blame them? It looks so good. I definitely had a taste the first time I got ahold of it. 2/10 would not recommend.

A:

I'm told it tastes like marshmallows


Q:

I know that if you don't finish you have to repay your tuition. Do you have to repay the government for your West Point education? Thanks for doing this, btw.

A:

No, that's only if you are separated/expelled, and only if it happens in your junior/senior years.

If anyone feels like I've now cheated the government of a good education, then they're missing two things:

  1. Usually it's the same people that say I shouldn't serve anyways, and so a contradiction.
  2. Even those that do not commission (about a dozen or two each year out of a class of ~1,000), they're still giving back to society with the lessons they've learned. The country as a whole improves.

Q:

Hi! My brother graduated last year from West Point, so might I say congratulations on sticking through! I've read a lot of posts on this thread either criticizing or making fun of you for being trans, but I think what you did was incredibly brave and I applaud you with the highest praise I can give. My only question is what are you planning on doing now?

A:

Thank you!

As for what I plan on doing: There's a slim slim chance I could still commission since my case is being reviewed separately than the DoD policy, but I'm not relying on it.

Apart from that, I just got dumped last night, so if it weren't for family nearby, I'd be unemployed and homeless right now. Looking at joining some tech company or political campaign as a data analyst because that's my background. Eventually I want to become a teacher.


Q:

What are your hobbies?

A:

Whatever normal nerd hobbies. Pretty decent with Rubik's cubes too. I also do math as a hobby, so that's probably the most fucked up part about me.

EDIT: I might continue to edit this as I come up with more things and get more clever. Steam games are pretty sweet; I exclusively do PC gaming. Memorizing pi has also been a hobby of mine. Last summer I managed to recite some 600 digits, but I couldn't do that right now.


Q:

I am aware that the DoD recently published new guidelines regarding the treatment of transgender individuals in the military, to go into effect on July 1st, 2017. Is your case currently being reviewed in light of these newly-passed guidelines?

A:

The DoD's policy came out in October of 2016, 90 days after the repeal of the ban on trans service. The July 1, 2017 policy concerns new recruits (and me). That has been delayed 6 months until 2018.

I'm told my case is being dealt with separately, but it was partly because that the policy had not been finalized that I was denied a commission.


A:

That's the original policy release from June/July 2016. It's been updated since.


Q:

ms riley GUPRZ. So.... G-4?

A:

Haha G-2 actually. The name has nothing to do with my company, it's just my gamer tag


Q:

How do you feel about the talks of the military paying for trans-sexual surgery?

On one hand : if you want to serve the country no one should deny your service for your sexuality which doesn't determine work ethic/patriotism.

On the other hand: joining the military purely for a "free" surgery to swap genders shouldn't be a priority mission for the military to spend money on.

Whats your thought? I'm somewhere in between to be honest.

A:

How do you feel about people joining just for free college?

Another issue is that changing your gender marker has state-dependent rules. Some states require surgery, some don't. It would be entirely unethical and probably unconstitutional for a federal institution like the military to pay for health care different based on what state you're from. And ultimately it makes the soldier/sailor/marine etc. far better at their job than they would be otherwise.

That being said, it's really not all the expensive. Sure, it costs money as all things do, but while we complain about $5.6 million a year, we're spending $300 million trying to recruit more soldiers.

If 18 other countries, including Israel, have no issue with it, I don't see why America can't do it.


Q:

Was it dishonorable discharge?

A:

Nope; honorable


Q:

What do changed after you were discharged? Financially how has it affected you? What was your interests of study at the school? What did you like most or worse?

I'm very sorry about your discharge by the way. I hate that for anyone

A:

What changed: I can grow my hair out now and wear whatever I want. I'm also not bound to military regulations and can be as political as I want on social media.

Financially: Well I'm suddenly unemployed, without healthcare, and I just lost my home last night, so pretty fucked. Although I'm living with relatives and hopefully will land a job soon.

Study: My major is Mathematical Sciences, but I also had a nuclear engineering track, and I took a year of Arabic.

Like Most [about West Point]: The people you meet are amazing. Both the good and the bad; they give you such perspective because by law they come from across the nation and from every state. It's really fascinating to see a precise cross-section of America (except it's only 20% women).

Like Least [about West Point]?: The place wears you down by never ending stress. The major difference with a normal college or Army job is that at the end of the day you don't get to go home. Instead, you move onto the next assigned task of the day and so on. Your entire day is scheduled or filled with things sometimes from 5:30 am to 11:00 pm, and then you have to do homework, and that might be on a Saturday. The nonstop grind is what makes it so difficult. I know neither of those are trans related but really it wasn't a major part of my life until my senior year.


Q:

Are you aware of where the concept of gender as a spectrum came from?

A:

If you're trying to bait me into something you think you know that I don't, I'm not sure where you're going with it.

That being said, I'm not nonbinary, but the way I like to look at it: if you have some traits that are traditionally viewed as feminine, and some that are masculine, it's entirely plausible that some people might like both of those traits, or neither, or some combination of those traits. I like to think that's a decent explanation of gender as a spectrum.


Q:

[removed]

A:

You sound like a very intelligent, and thoughtful person /u/Rape_Means_Yes


Q:

[removed]

A:

Booga Booga


Q:

Do you have any thoughts on the ability for transwomen to more easily meet physical standards than ciswomen? Seems like it might ruffle a few feathers.

A:

The simply truth is that transwomen can't pass any easier than ciswomen. Certainly while they are in transition it might be easier, but they're most likely still on the male standard during that time. After a few months to a year of hormone therapy, transwomen have no advantage over ciswomen. The same is true for transmen as well.

Besides, even if it was easier for transwomen, it certainly wouldn't be easier for them to pass female height/weight standards.


Q:

Sooooo....do you keep it in a jar on the mantle, or is that one of those things where it gets burned in the hospital furnace and thrown away in one of those bins with the biohazard/organic material symbols on it?

A:

It just get inverted. It's actually a pretty cool procedure that also looks disgusting and horrifying, but that's why I'm not a surgeon. Also, it's not something that I, or most transwomen, have done.


Q:

[removed]

A:

We're not allowed conjugal visits at a military academy

EDIT: RE: "How often did your friend Dorothy visit you?"