Navy petty officer second class tells his story
Newly installed Hampton Roads Pride President Fawn Faulks, the group’s first African-American president, said that Mr. Elvis came to talk in order to educate both the community and Pride members. Please note Elvis’ first name has not been used in order to protect his privacy.
What enters your mind if you are an Enlisted Navy female sailor who wants to transition to a male while still serving in the Navy? To some, it may be an inconceivable and unsolvable problem but not to US Navy GSM2 (Gas Turbine Systems) Petty Officer Second Class Elvis, stationed here in Norfolk.
Elvis was Hampton Roads Pride’s main speaker at a recent Pride meeting. Pride is the local, and very active, LGBTQ+ group that meets monthly on the first Monday at WHRO, 5200 Hampton Blvd., Norfolk, VA 23508.
Born in Jamaica, Elvis graduated from a local high school, attended two years of college and then entered the Navy as a mechanical engineer. He described his parents as “very, very strict,” but they were his “backbone.” Growing up, once known as Denine, he said he “knew something was off about being a girl” and was thrilled when the hopeful-to-be-male received a pair of pants. That was true until he shared his wish to transition with his parents and was told, “Don’t Ever Come Home.”
He tried to commit suicide because he was so devastated and depressed, but the gun did not go off. He went home to his wife, and at first, denied his transition wishes to her, but she said she had known for a long time.
Members of the Navy are required to only use Tricare medical insurance and the Veterans Administration Hospital in Portsmouth. Still, as an enlisted member of the Navy, he sought counseling and medical help in the local community. Elvis began to shave facial hair. Elvis’ voice deepened. He feared the Navy would discharge him dishonorably. He risked everything to get the medical treatments. “It was not easy stepping out because of ignorant, insulting people,” Elvis said.
The Navy pulled him off sea duty and placed him on shore duty at Norfolk Naval Base (Hampton Blvd).
Now the male petty officer is “the go-to-guy” for any enlisted sailors who are considering changing their gender.
He is now permanently on shore duty and has been married six years to his wife. They plan to adopt a baby in the near future. Although the struggle to stay in the service might present itself, he says he is a fighter and won’t give up on any goal.
“Trans is something that is in you that you can not change. It’s just like the color of your skin, it doesn’t change,” Elvis said.