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Jane Fee

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August 28, 2013 11:29 pm

I was sitting here at my computer, thinking about the Honor Flight I was on last Oct. from Minneapolis to DC. It is a flight that honors WWII vets by providing a free flight, from different U S locations, to visit the WWII memorial and other war memorials in DC. The flight consisted of 100 WWII vets and 62 support personnel. This made me think about my growing up in Takoma Park and looking on the internet to see what BSA Troop 33 and TPPC are doing, and here I am.

When my parents died, my adopted family moved from DC to Takoma Park so I could grow up, ages 5 to 14 (1932 to 1941), in a suburban community. We lived at two locations on Carroll Ave. We started at 1018 (now 7818), but that was a long walk to school so we moved to 306 (now 7342).

I attended the old Takoma Park Elementary school, the old Jr High in Silver Spring and the New Takoma-Silver Spring Jr High. I attended TPPC with my aunt and uncle and joined BSA33 when I was 12. I played clarinet in the school band, delivered newspapers, sang "Ave Maria" solo on the radio from the Shoreham Hotel, was Schoolboy Patrol Leader, marched in a parade with the President and the King and Queen of England in 1939 and was appointed as Senior Air Raid Warden for TSS Jr High.

We moved to Philadelphia in 1942 to live with relatives since my uncle had been severely injured at work and my aunt had become blind. I completed 10th grade at Upper Darby High and quit school to go to work in the war effort since my uncle died that year. When my aunt was safely settled in with old school friends and I was old enough I enlisted in the Army. I was assigned to the 1st Cavalry Division in the Pacific and went into Japan with them as part of the occupying force. I was promoted to Sgt 4 months after enlisting, SFC in 5 years and commissioned in 6 years. I retired from the army as a Major after 28 years of active and reserve duty. I returned to my former job as a Jr Engineer designing ice cream making machinery and became General Manager. I never got back to formal education, but studied a lot on my own. I went on to other companies and became Technical Sales Engineer, Director of Sales, Director of Systems Engineering and Vice President of North America Operations for an international corporation.

AND ALL THIS TIME NOBODY KNEW I DRESSED AS A FEMALE WHEN EVER I COULD. My wife found out and divorced me. My company found out and retired me. I sat around one day and thought. What should I do now? I KNOW. I'LL BE MYSELF. If you are truly a good person and have good self-esteem, you don't need anyone else's approval to be yourself.

Since I had worked so hard at hiding the fact that I am transgender, it was important to me that I no longer have a reason to hide it. So... I called Sally Jesse Raphael and said I've got an idea for a show. I got three other retired service members and the show was called "Grandpa Wears skirts." That was when I learned just how powerful TV is. Several hundred people approached me on the street over 5 years. The last time someone approached me and said "I know you. I remember you from SJR." was 6 years later.

Since then I have started and worked with organizations that work for equal rights for LGBT and others. I also worked for several political campaigns and in 2000 I became the first openly transgender person to be elected as a delegate to a Democratic National Convention. I feel more satisfied, comfortable and happy with my accomplishments over the last 25 years than all of the rest of my 86 years.

Back in 1995 I received an invitation to the 75th anniversary of Troop 33. I wrote a letter explaining that a previous commitment would prevent my attending. I did order and receive my t-shirt which is still hanging in my home. I received a very nice response to my letter and thought about what I know. Organizations can have rules and regulations, but the application is determined by the person you are facing. I am looking forward to the Troop's 100th anniversary and expect to attend.

I am proud that I was a member of Troop 33 and TPPC and had the opportunity to grow up in a community that educated me and gave me the experiences and support to be the person I am. I still try to live by the Boy Scout Oath.

Maybe I’ll stop by next time I am in Washington.

Jane Fee
6824 Sandlewood Rd
Woodbury, MN 55125
Feb 2, 2017, 11:10 AM