Veterans Day often brings to mind the image of an older man in uniform. But, 77-year-old Richard Ramsey is making a change. A big change. Call him “Renee.”
It was June 15, 2009, when 20-year Navy veteran Richard Ramsey walked into a clinic in Bristol Township, Pa., and then walked out, three days later, no longer a man. Today, “Renee” Ramsey, age 77, claims pride in being “the lady I always knew I was.”
By all reports, Ramsey is the oldest man in the United States to undergo gender transformation. According to the National Center for Transgender Equality, he’s one of 700,000 Americans to make the switch. After qualifying for psychological criteria, Ramsey underwent genital surgery and now takes drugs to lower testosterone and boost estrogen.
Body hair comes off with store products. Conceivably, Ramsey could opt for plastic surgery that feminizes his face – narrowing the chin, filling the lips and changing the nose. Judging by his pictures, though, that’s still down the pike.
“I feel calm, happy, and relaxed,” Ramsey told the Philadelphia Inquirer. “And do you know what makes me feel the best? When I get on a train and the conductor says, ‘May I have your ticket, ma’am?’ I feel like a million dollars.”
Richard Ramsey has had his reasons for avoiding gender surgery until now. He admits to having felt unusual about his sexual identity since early childhood but wasn’t fully, finally sure of his “inner woman” until his fifties. By then, he was already married to his second wife. When she died in March 2009, “Renee” was ready.
“The hardest thing I have to do is learn to be a lady,” Ramsey said. “Little girls learn it from the time they’re 5 or 6 or even younger. I’m just starting out. I have to learn and unlearn. When I get angry at someone, I have to practice acting like a lady instead of sounding off like I used to do.”
Photo: April Saul / Philadelphia Inquirer