kristin
heinichen

photojournalist
heinichenkristin@gmail.com
740-591-0712

merits of diversity

Beneath a ‘cover’ up has been a soldier who proudly
served his country for over 30 years. Born in 1938,
this Navy man exhibited patriotism, courage
and faithfulness like any other of his comrades.
Despite this, he often felt that he was a fraud. Only
after serving two tours of duty in Vietnam and
fulfilling a slew of other military assignments did
Donald Darrell Alfred-Bradley decide he would no
longer surrender his free will. At the age of 60,
he became LeAnna Bradley.

“I, as a transgender who served proudly in wearing my uniform for 37 years, still feel the same proudness today wearing the uniform,” LeAnna said.

As Donald Darrell Alfred-Bradley, she more than mucked it out as soldier. She experienced the frenzied warfare of Vietnam, was wounded during combat on two occasions and spent over four months of her 31 months of service in a body cast. But when the onslaught of artillery ceased and all was quiet, LeAnna combatted her thoughts.

In 1999, LeAnna traveled to Thailand to undergo gender reassignment surgery. But this was merely a body modification, a procedure to validate what she always knew to be true. Born a male, LeAnna believed her state of gender to be a false description of herself. Her sensibilities never matched her assigned sex. She recalled that as early as four, she fantasizing about being a girl and was transfixed by the female merchandise in the Sears and Roebuck catalogues. In spite of this, LeAnna found the endurance to enter the male dominant arena of the United States military.

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LeAnna Bradley looks out her Galesburg, IL home prior to a photo shoot. She had her uniform fashioned into a skirt, a style she always wanted to wear. “From going from a male standpoint of wearing a uniform to a female standpoint of wearing a uniform, it makes me 10 times more proud now because I am who I am, and I can believe in what the true meaning of patriotism is, and what the uniform stands for.”
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Soon after her surgery, LeAnna found a devoted partner in Jamie Jansen, someone who can empathize with LeAnna’s struggle for self expression in a social system ruled by men. Jamie was previously James, and served 15 years in the U.S. Air Force. Here, Jami makes breakfast while LeAnna rummages through the fridge. Normally, Jamie cooks and LeAnna has KP (Kitchen Police) duty.
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LeAnna takes great care in getting ready before going out in public. She experienced the frenzied warfare of Vietnam, was wounded during combat on two occasions and spent over four months of her 31 months of service in a body cast. But when the onslaught of artillery ceased and all was quiet, LeAnna combatted her thoughts. “When things were quiet and I wasn’t in a defense mode, I would start thinking of my female emotions. I thought, ‘why am I feeling like this?’ I felt like a girl,” she said.
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LeAnna has an intimate moment with during a Deva Las Vegas, a function in Las Vegas, Nevada for those who are living as transgenders, transvestites and transexuals. She recalled that as early as four, she fantasizing about being a girl and was transfixed by the female merchandise in the Sears and Roebuck catalogues.
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Here, LeAnna peers out the window of her Galesburg, IL home before going out in public. Because of her female tendencies, LeAnna copied the machismo exhibited in her male counterparts. While it got her through, she was subject to continuous harassments and one very violent sexual assault. She used her military training to move past the pain and went on to serve without objection from the bullying she endured.“After that instance I kept to myself,” she said. “I never did get over it. I just learned to live with it.”
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LeAnna and Jamie leave a book signing with actor Tony Curtis at the Las Vegas Public Library. One of their favorite films by Curtis is the 1959 American comedy, ‘Some Like It Hot,’ where he disguising himself as a women to play in an all-girl musical band. As a transgender couple who both served in the military, over the years, they have learned to follow a new code of conduct.
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Through their collective backgrounds and value systems, the couple have a considerable connection. They adjusted to military life out of duty to their country and accommodated their families out of respect and obligation. It wasn’t until they were both approaching 70 that they made their personal needs a priority. Here, LeAnna and Jamie’s ritual is to watch The Golden Girls most every night before drifting off to sleep.