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LGBTQ+ prosthetics supports Air Force Veteran’s gender identity

Veteran Mari Lynn profile
Army Veteran Marí Lynn enjoys being a part of the Gender Identity Support Group at Alaska VA Healthcare.

“Anytime I wear feminine clothes it makes me feel good, I feel comfortable…it’s like going from a tunnel and into the light,” says Air Force Veteran Marí Lynn.

Air Force Veteran Marí Lynn walked into the interview sporting a cool pair of purple aviator glasses, a metallic bead necklace, and a bright blue top. She smiles as she talks about her feminine clothing and how good it makes her feel. She is proud of how she looks and extremely happy to be able to use LGBTQ+ prosthetics.

Lynn is one of many Veterans who use Alaska VA services to get prosthetic devices so they can be more aligned with their gender identity.

Alaska VA Healthcare offers health care services to LGBTQ+ Veterans in the Alaska community. The facility’s Gender Identity Support group is very popular and provides a safe space for exploring gender identity issues. Hormone therapy is another option offered, as well as a number of mental health services.

Prosthetics is just one more service that helps LGBTQ+ Veterans feel comfortable in their gender identity.

Ultimately, Lynn wants to get gender confirming surgery but for now she is using prosthetics. She uses breast forms and a gaff, a piece of fabric that keeps male genitalia flattened, to maintain her appearance and to feel good about her body while waiting on surgery.

About coming to terms with her gender identity, Lynn says, “Anytime I wear feminine clothes it makes me feel good, I feel comfortable…It’s like going from a tunnel and into the light.”

VA provides a number of prosthetic and sensory aid devices for transgender and intersex Veterans, including wigs, packers, gaffs, surgical compression vests, breast forms, and more. These items are available to order with proper medical justifications from providers.

For example, some trans women Veterans may be experiencing male-pattern baldness or are not able to grow their hair long enough for a feminine appearance. In cases like this a wig can be helpful to make a Veteran feel more aligned with their gender identity.

Jessie Kullberg, Alaska VA Healthcare’s LGBTQ+ Veteran Care Coordinator, says having these services is extremely important, especially for transgender Veterans.

“It’s really important to recognize transfolks are at higher risk of suicide, significantly higher,” says Kullberg, “LGBTQ+ in general is at increased risk for mental health problems because of the minority group stress.”

Kullberg says one of the most important things to start with is prosthetic education, so that you do not cause harm to yourself by improperly using prosthetics. Talk to your provider if you are interested in LGBTQ+ prosthetics and want to learn more.

For more information, you can call Jessie Kullberg at 907-257-4888.

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