Don't let your schooling interfere with your education.
~ Pete Seeger

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

“Unregulated chemicals …

… were discovered in some of the base drinking water systems in the early 1980's. At this time, the Marine Corps is funding health studies to determine … whether or not there may be an association between exposure to the water and certain health conditions."

That information came to me yesterday in a letter from the US Marine Corps, forwarded by the IRS since the Marines don't know where to find me anymore. The Marine Corps is "actively seeking individuals who resided or worked aboard Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune." They want me to call them up and tell them all about my health history.

My first response to reading it was fury. I felt so angry to be part of a scientific experiment, without my knowledge or consent – and I couldn't help but wonder if it didn't impact my gender dysphoria.

Now, maybe I'm jumping to conclusions. Maybe it was accidental, or unintended, and there's nothing here but healthy concern for my well-being.

However, the United States government has a long history of using US citizens as guinea pigs in tests and experiments without consent or knowledge. Hanford. Gulf War Syndrome. The Tuskogee Experiment.

These "unregulated chemicals" were released on a Marine Corps base. Security is generally pretty tight in these locations, and I have a hard time believing that someone just came in and dumped some strange chemicals into the water, and nobody asked them what they were doing. The chemicals may have been "unregulated," but they were certainly known.

And if they were "discovered" in the early 1980's, why did it take them 25 years to notify me, or seek me out, and ask for my health information?

No. My Marine Corps colleagues and I were human guinea pigs in some chemical experiment, and now it's time to collect the data on long-term effects.

I'm not going to call them up and give them any.

At least, not willingly.

The letter ends: "We appreciate your support in helping us reach all former residents and employees as we want to ensure the widest dissemination of information to our Marine family." The cynicism drips off the page.

I felt a lot of anger at first, and some fear – what was in the water? How did it affect me? Those bastards! Etc.

Thank God for Kristin and her NVC magic. After the boys went to sleep, she came and we talked for awhile. I cried a bit, and got empathy and some other treatment she gives that gets to the bottom of feelings and needs. I unraveled the anger to find feelings of helplessness underneath, and she showed me how that anger empowers me by defying the helplessness. And I came out of it, once again, stronger than before.

I am not a victim. It doesn't matter what that experiment did to me, if indeed it did anything. I am in control of my own life, and I am coming into my own, with the power of nonviolence behind and in me. I'm making a difference in this world – a small difference perhaps, but it is there.

I'm grateful.

But I'm still not going to call the Marine Corps up and give them any data.


Anonymous said...

oh no...


I don't know what to say, but I'm sorry you felt used like that, and I really hope whatever you were exposed to didn't do any serious damage or cause you pain or grief. Maybe you will never know...we're exposed to a lot in this life, but it's unfortunate that someone would expose another human on purpose as a test.

I admire you very much, and Kristin as well. You continue to awe me in great ways with your strength.

If anything comes of this, keep us all updated!

Seda said...

Hey, AJ, it's cool. I'm glad you didn't join the Army, though! I don't suppose they've stopped pulling experiments on soldiers - they seem to think the military is a convenient guinea pig pool.

Or maybe I'm just getting cynical...

Security is mostly a superstition. It does not exist in nature, nor do the children of men as a whole experience it. Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than outright exposure. Life is either a daring adventure, or nothing. To keep our faces toward change and behave like free spirits in the presence of fate is strength undefeatable.
~Helen Keller

Reading List for Information about Transpeople

  • Becoming a Visible Man, by Jamison Green
  • Conundrum, by Jan Morris
  • Gender Outlaw, by Kate Bornstein
  • My Husband Betty, by Helen Boyd
  • Right Side Out, by Annah Moore
  • She's Not There, by Jennifer Boylan
  • The Riddle of Gender, by Deborah Rudacille
  • Trans Liberation, by Leslie Feinberg
  • Transgender Emergence, by Arlene Istar Lev
  • Transgender Warriors, by Leslie Feinberg
  • Transition and Beyond, by Reid Vanderburgh
  • True Selves, by Mildred Brown
  • What Becomes You, by Aaron Link Raz and Hilda Raz
  • Whipping Girl, by Julia Serano
I have come into this world to see this:
the sword drop from men's hands even at the height
of their arc of anger
because we have finally realized there is just one flesh to wound
and it is His - the Christ's, our