Final Appeal

We finally got notice from OPM (federal government human resources basically) saying they received our final appeal and will give us an answer in 60 days. Sadly this is about 14 days after we have to make payment and we all know they won’t decide early. Hopefully on the off chance they approve we can get a refund pretty quickly.

We had our first two go to Kaiser Permanente, the second time with an incredibly well written letter by the surgeon explaining why it is absolutely necessary to have the second part of the surgery, otherwise intended function of the first surgery would not work.

All they have done in their response was say they won’t cover it, because it isn’t a covered procedure. As someone who has worked in and managed medical offices it is absolutely the most moronic response we have ever seen. The purpose of appeals is to find medically necessary procedures/medications/services that are needed on an individual basis.

Normally the appeals person will respond in detail why something is or is not going to be covered. My experience it is a lot of times a doctor explaining either other options that would get the same medical necessity, or at least go into detail why the surgery isn’t medically necessary. This is the first time we have seen an appeal response, especially the second time, not give any details. That is exactly what they aren’t supposed to do when they respond to an appeal.

Wolsey even called the appeals department and the representative we got on the phone went over the response and was stunned about it. You aren’t supposed to be able to just say “its not covered” because after all that was the original reason for the turn down, and the appeals is supposed to allow medically necessary things through or explain in detail why it isn’t necessary.

Both Wolsey and I suspect it isn’t a normal appeals because it is the federal government. They are immune to almost all the insurance laws out there. This is the reason before Obama approved transgender care, they ignored our state law when it came to transgender services, and the state was really frustrated they couldn’t touch them.

So now Wolsey’s surgery payment is in the hands of appeals in the federal government. I don’t know what to expect in the response. I have seen Medicare appeals, and they have a good rate of approval of appeals, but this isn’t Medicare and with Trump and Pence’s war on transgender people both Wolsey and I suspect it will be a no go.

We are fortunate in the fact we can fall back on our recently paid down credit cards. It will put us about 7 months of major payments back, but it is an absolutely necessary surgery, and we are going to get it for Wolsey whether or not the feds abandon us.

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It keeps getting rougher.

A lot of things have been happening, lots of little things, and I think I will just address them individually. So right now I will start with the most angry/frustrating thing I can think of. Trump’s ban on transgender in the military.

Everyone has probably read about it, transgender people won’t be allowed to sign up, those already in the military may be ejected at any time, and their medical has been hit with no transgender services used by the military.

We found this also hits Wolsey. It has been said that as of the end of this year we are back to where we were when I petitioned to have his medical care back in 2015. I have been told, but I don’t have a confirmation yet that he won’t have coverage for anything in those areas. We won’t  have that until the new medical plans come out in November.

This means at the end of the year, hormones, SRS, or ANYTHING to do with his transgender status will no longer be covered.

We knew this was coming, and I am incredibly grateful that the two of us “panicked” at the start of the year and pushed two years ahead on our schedule to start his surgeries.

Currently our final level of appeal for the last surgery itself is at OPM (the Human Resources for the federal government) and we will see if its covered or not. If it isn’t, I have two credit cards ready to take on all the debt, it will just push us back about 7 months.

Even so, I am very glad we assumed the worst of this administration, and that through sheer luck we were able to get Wolsey in for surgery.

The other aspect that I haven’t talked about yet, we don’t know if civilian DoD workers can be fired at will like active military or not. If the medical is cut the same, I am prepared for the rest of it to be treated the same with him.

After his surgery in December we are going to reassess. Our original goal was to wait until he got 5 years here. That way he gets a tiny little pension worth 5% of his paychecks when he retires. We are currently at year 2 for him next month (and I am at year 3). We still want to hold three more years, but we don’t know. State jobs would cover him, protect him and also put into a different tiny pension when he retires, but he really wanted to finish what he started here.

I guess we will see, and I will tell everyone else when we know.

Oh, and we will have more stuff coming, Wolsey had to take a break from Background Radiation last couple of weeks. It has been so depressing.

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A BRCC and Dog Whistle encounter.

Dog Whistle (term): a coded message communicated through words or phrases commonly understood by a particular group of people, but not by others. – Merriam Webster

Yesterday was a long day, one that I won’t go into here but was very physically and emotionally exhausting for both Wolsey and myself. On our way home from a single day 250 mile round-trip we stopped at McDonalds, and we decided to sit inside to eat.

We had just heard about the horrific alt-right/Nazi/Trump Douchebag attacks in Virginia and were not in a great mood because of it. The area we were in was remarkably pro-Trump earlier in the day, with a god awful sign screaming about defunding Planned Parenthood, so I think I was extra vigilant (or maybe just so pissed about the day I was looking for a problem).

I will be the first to admit I was more aggressive then I probably should be, but the family stuff along with the Alt-Right douchebaggery had me rattled. However, I didn’t want to clean up what I say here because I wanted to share my emotion, and admit I probably could have handled this a little better.

We got in, got our burgers and were talking. I was incredibly thankful to have Wolsey with me, and we just started feeling a little better when in walked two young men, mid-twenties probably who came walking into the seating area and stumbled around for a minute or two. I noticed their shirts had the letters BRCC on them, some sort of coffee symbol and a crosshair (although I wasn’t sure at the time if that is what it was, because in each corner there was a symbol).

The symbol was similar to this, plus a coffee symbol

I couldn’t tell you what caught my attention, but they seemed uncertain of sitting near Wolsey and I so I kept watching. Eventually they sat one seat over behind Wolsey and were talking back and forth. They seemed a bit nervous, but the guy facing away from me seemed to forget I was there. I noticed along the back of his shirt it said Black Rifle Coffee Company.

Immediately I was sure the shirt was a dog whistle. Two white males, displaying a brand of coffee that loves its artwork about guns, on a day of alt-right violence. I had never heard of a BRCC coffee shop so I doubted it was a local coffee company and that they worked for them, and while I couldn’t be sure about the meaning of the company, I was sure it was an alt-right signal.

I noticed the guy kept watching me and Wolsey, and that brought my full stare at him, I didn’t look away even as I talked with Wolsey. Something about the guy bothered me, and while I didn’t say anything to him, I am fairly sure my staring at him caught him off guard. He kept half looking at us, but he wouldn’t meet my eyes.

I watched for a couple of minutes and then without looking away I reached over and lovingly patted Wolsey’s hand, in a gesture that established our relationship. The guy’s eyes shot up and he flinched a bit.

In my emotional state I was hoping he would say something. I was praying he said the “f” word even in passing. The last year and a half dealing with the passing of both parents was wound up pretty tight. However, they are both small to medium sized guys and I am pretty big and he said nothing. He just looked down.

By this time Wolsey noticed I was watching something and had a curious look. He knew I was bothered, but didn’t draw attention to it. He told me a little about the crash (we had just heard about the car attack) and I said loudly something about “Alt-Right Fucks” and the guy that still wouldn’t look at me directly flinched again.

I knew I was right about them at that moment. I was also slightly disappointed that evidently like the other alt-right people they were not willing to say something to someone on equal playing field.

It was then that Wolsey and I got up to leave. I think Wolsey knew the second he saw the guys what had my attention and why. As we walked out I wasn’t sure if they would say something, they douchebags had been super active all over the country so maybe these guys would say something.

I was hoping they would, but the one guy wouldn’t look at either of us, and I don’t think the second guy even knew what the situation was. He did seem taken aback as Wolsey and I walked out the door as I had hugged Wolsey as we walked away and was watching the two of them.

We did a quick google search after it about Black Rifle Coffee Company. They do supposedly hire veterans, and I am for that. However, they are based in Utah, they scream about the millennial attitudes, they are for retaking back what we originally where (a coded dog whistle), they are a coffee company that “makes coffee that conservatives can drink”. Their coffee cups even have weapons printed on them. They scream about immigrants and refugees, they were upset that Starbucks pledged to hire refugees and somehow made that an attack on veterans. There is more, but I don’t need to repeat all the shitty things they say.

Oh, I guess I do have to say one more thing, they support Donald Trump, if that isn’t a reason to call the company douchebags then I don’t know what is. Also a confirmation to me that wearing the shirt is a dog whistle.

Update: BRCC hiring veterans is not necessarily a “feel good” thing. There are definite advantages for tax credits and if you think BRCC doesn’t consider that as well then you aren’t thinking it through.

While Starbuck’s gets no tax credit for hiring refugees, BRCC is hiring veterans for PR and for tax bonus:

Businesses that hire eligible unemployed veterans can take advantage of a Work Opportunity Tax Credit (WOTC). (This credit is also available to certain tax-exempt organizations.) After recent changes, The Returning Heroes Tax Credit now provides incentives of up to $5,600 for hiring unemployed veterans, and the Wounded Warriors Tax Credit doubles the existing Work Opportunity Tax Credit for long-term unemployed veterans with service-connected disabilities, to up to $9,600. (source)

If you think for a second they are not doing it for a tax credit, I have a bridge to sell you.

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8/11/17 Background Radiation

Let’s take a look at the terrible news things this week.

In Transgender Military Ban news, we have a lot going on.

It looks like Trump is congratulating himself on the new policy he created banning transgender active duty soldiers form the military.

“I have great respect for the community… I think I’ve had great support, or I’ve had great support from that community. I got a lot of votes. But the transgender the military‘s working on it now… It’s been a very difficult situation and I think I’m doing a lot of people a favor by coming out and just saying it. As you know, it’s been a very complicated issue for the military, it’s been a very confusing issue for the military, and I think I’m doing the military a great favor.”

We’ve learned his own lawyers counseled him against the policy, and more than 50 members of congress sent a letter asking the Department of Defense to defy the ban.

It looks like the US Navy Secretary might take them up on it. He’s doing some typical DoD language here. He’s saying he’ll follow policy if the Pentagon puts it out. That’s some serious if’s when there are arguments that it’s probably not constitutional. He also made it clear that transgender people should be allowed to serve by saying,

“any patriot that wants to serve and meets all the requirements should be able to serve in our military.”

There is a new study that says it will cost around $960 million to dump all active duty transgender soldiers out of the military.

Five active duty service members are suing over the ban on transgender folks in the military.

Here’s an op-ed with Admiral Paul Zukunft, Commandant of the U.S. Coast Guard, elaborating on his refusal to “break faith” with transgender service members under his command.

In other infuriating news, we have a story that a transgender woman, and her husband had their breaks cut in an attempted murder event while working at Amazon. They were subjected to all sorts of harassment over her being trans. They are suing for workplace discrimination.

A man in Florida was shot, and killed, defending his gay friends. The murderer was let out without bond. . . That is horrific.

The Duggar’s are continuing their anti-transgender agenda. 28-year-old Derick Dillard, married to one of the Duggar daughters, and with their own reality TV show. Because we need more reality TV about these people? He’s been attacking 16-year-old Jazz Jennings about being transgender. He’s a grown ass man attacking a kid. Nice Christian ethics there. There is no reference to being transgender in the bibles, and I don’t remember a sermon where Jesus told his followers to go attack children.

Lastly, to close I’d like to link to a good article that discusses how toxic masculinity fuels transgender victimization. If you have a few minutes, it’s a really good read.

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The book and a guide for spouses of transitioning partners (especially FTM)

This week has been a quiet one, although we did finish our book though, sent it in and hopefully will hear back soon. We had it done last February, but the publisher couldn’t review it until the end of May. The publisher heard the surgery was happening and asked if we could extend it to include that, so we did.

However, writing the book made me realize something about my blog entries. Most of my posts now and in the future I am sure, are made usually as things happen. Full on emotional highlights (or maybe stonewalling those emotions) but they are excellent for showing how I felt and was thinking at the time. Even if they sometimes bounce around randomly.

When I went back to write a followup  for the book, I realized how much I had either left out, or how things had either changed or perhaps I was more on target with the post then I realized. I am thinking I might start writing up in general a guide of how things actually work (after the fact) once major events have passed.

This is coupled with the fact I have gotten a remarkable number of general questions on how things work, or how I handled things. When I look at my posts I find that I don’t necessarily address overall questions in them, so there isn’t any one place I can refer people to (or that I can refer to so I can answer a question).

Take for example I don’t think I am far enough away from Wolsey’s first bottom surgery to be able to give a factual review or guidance on what it was like for me as a supporting spouse and what I had to do, at least not for another six months or more. I am still in the middle of it. However, I think I can talk to how to handle it when your spouse comes out, how family reacts, top surgery, relationship issues, etc.

Not a repeat of posts that have occurred, but sort of a guide on how things happen (at least in my relationship) the pitfalls and great things that occur. With the benefit of hindsight. Also since a lot of these events occurred I have subsequently found either resources, or other things that help with that situation and I want to share those.

Just wanted to let you know why I may bring up general subjects now, that I talked about two or three years ago. Feedback is great, and if it seems to redundant please tell me.

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Ads?

I am using Chrome for the first time in awhile and I just realized there are ads on the website (I have all the ad blockers on my old Safari browser and never noticed them). There should NEVER be ads on this website, that is why I paid for the business plan.

The control panel now tells me that the ads are gone (I found the box and clicked it). It appears so when I look at the site. However, please tell me if you ever see ads. I do not want myself or wordpress to make money off this website, and I definitely hate ads myself.

This is to help others (and myself by letting me vent into a place regularly). This is not meant to make me or anyone else money.

I apologize the ads have been on, that is my bad.

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Surgery Trip #1 Video

I finally got around putting some of the surgery trip pictures into a small video for my personal blog. I figured they deserved to be here too :).

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