As a 45-year-old, married, disabled veteran who is unable to work, I thought I had perhaps gone as far as I could in my transition until I won the lotto or managed to sell a book or something. I did what I could, helping with the Transgender American Veterans Association, as well as my local support group. I also went to a few conferences and talked about writing as well as TAVA. I tried to get involved.
When my health started declining I began writing even more, putting more stories online on various websites for the trans community, as well as writing fan fiction. It kept me occupied and engaged with the wider community. My stories also allowed me to help others with the power of my words, by dealing with issues like PTSD, family trauma and other problems. Writing became my most likely route to get the money for surgery.
Then I discovered the Jim Collins Foundation. I heard about it when it first came out but initially knew I would have issues getting my letters. Then I was sure I didn’t deserve it. I still thought it when I applied this time, but I followed the words of Robert Heinlein who said, “You can’t win if you don’t bet.” I am so glad I took the chance.
My initial response was to stare blankly at the phone, unsure what had just happened. My wife was screaming and jumping up and down while I blinked a few times, and I was told the news again. It took nearly a week for it to register, but it eventually has and I have been floating about, giddily preparing for my surgery. One phone call really did change my life. I was going to be content being incomplete until somehow the money fell into my lap, but by taking the chance and putting myself forward for the grant, I will finally be complete. The Jim Collins Foundation has my eternal thanks for that.