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  1. #1
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    Lightbulb OMG.......For the first time ever I am speechless........

    *******I know al, now ali personally from the explorers and I will say this and this only.......I dont agreee with his dicision but I know he is a TOP NOTCH firefighter and passed on my much knowledge to me and fellow explorers.************



    From Albert to Alishia; Danvers firefighter reveals plan for sex change

    By Jill Harmacinski

    Staff writer


    DANVERS -- A longtime Danvers firefighter made history this week when he asked the town to recognize him as a woman and revealed his plan to have a sex-change operation.

    Albert James Ouellette has legally changed his name to Alishia Virginia Ouellette and wants his 49 fellow firefighters to call him Ali.

    Ouellette is the first Massachusetts firefighter to undergo a sex change. Danvers officials now recognize Ouellette as the first female firefighter in the department's 174-year history.

    While the change has been rumored for months, Ouellette, a firefighter for seven years, announced the plan late last week in an open letter to the department.

    Before the surgery, which has yet to be scheduled, Ouellette, who is 50, is required by doctors to live a minimum of one year, perhaps two, as a woman to be both emotionally and physically prepared for the operation. Ouellette is also undergoing intensive counseling and hormone replacement therapy.

    Through the extensive process, Ouellette plans to continue working as a firefighter.

    "This is what I like doing," Ouellette said of his career. "I just want to do it as a woman."

    Last Friday, Town Manager Wayne Marquis mailed letters to firefighters' homes to ask the department to support Ouellette and remind them of the town's anti-discrimination and harassment policy. "We support Ali and wish continued success in this transition," he wrote.

    Chief James Tutko said he also wants firefighters to support Ouellette through "a very difficult time in her life."

    The news has drawn mixed reaction from firefighters, a tight-knit profession dominated by men who typically refer to one another as brothers. Some are appalled, some are confused and others appear unfazed by Ouellette's decision, according to Brian Barry, president of the Danvers firefighters' union.

    Those who were willing to talk about Ouellette's decision were cautious about the words they chose.

    "You've got to understand that he's going through this," Barry said, "but we are, too."

    Many firefighters are worried about negative publicity for the department, Barry added. On a more practical side, firefighters are finding it hard to call Ouellette "Ali."

    "But I'm trying to correct myself on the gender because I know it's important to her," Chief Tutko said.

    Speaking personally, and not as union president, Barry said he realizes his co-worker will change physically, but doesn't believe becoming a woman will change Ouellette's work ethic or ability to the meet the physical demands of the job.

    "He's a good firefighter today, and I'm sure he will be in two or three years when things change," Barry said. "He's a good person. He does his job. This won't change that."

    Capt. Doug Conrad, Ouellette's shift supervisor, said Ouellette is competent to do the job.

    "Will this be uncomfortable sometimes? Yeah," Conrad said.

    Secret life

    Ouellette, who insisted The Salem News use feminine pronouns when writing about her present situation, describes herself as a private person. She stresses that she agreed to be interviewed only in the hope it would shatter the many stereotypes attached to transsexuals -- people who want to change from one sex to another, usually by having surgery.

    The word transsexual conjures up the vision of the flamboyant, heavily made-up drag queen that is often depicted by Hollywood and the media, Ouellette said.

    "That's not me. I want to be an average woman, a real woman," Ouellette said.

    This decision is not one Ouellette made lightly or quickly. Even as a child he had strong feminine feelings and interests, yet professionally pursued traditional male roles. After growing up in town, Ouellette dropped out of Danvers High School in 1972 and joined the Navy. He later became a husband and stepfather. Today, in addition to working as a firefighter, Ouellette runs a small business specializing in fire truck repairs on the North Shore.

    To the outside world, Ouellette's life appeared to be that of an ordinary man. But inside, he harbored a deep secret. Privately, Ouellette said he knew he was a woman. Occasionally, these feelings would overcome him and he would indulge. Dressed like a woman, Ouellette would go shopping, sometimes venturing into Boston-area bars and to transsexual meetings and rallies. Afterward, he'd be overcome by enormous guilt and shame, and would worry that people had seen him.

    By his mid-30s, Ouellette learned "there were many others, thousands of others, out there like me."

    Ouellette is separated from his wife, and for this story didn't want her identified or contacted.

    Now, with a close group of friends Ouellette describes as a support network, she's ready to change gender, finally allowing the body to coincide with the mind. The announcement to the department last week was difficult and liberating at the same time, Ouellette said.

    "It's a big weight off my shoulders," Ouellette said. "I don't have to worry, 'Will someone see me? Will someone find out about me?'"

    Just like a woman

    To prepare for surgery, Ouellette is now required by physicians to live full time as a woman.

    At work, the male and female firefighter uniforms are identical. And sleeping quarters won't change, because the station has private bunks. Ouellette wears makeup, and uses the ladies' restroom at the station and in public.

    The road ahead is challenging and expensive.

    Ouellette will continue counseling, a portion of which is covered by the town's medical insurance. She now takes the female hormone estrogen, and other medications that block testosterone, the hormone that fosters male characteristics in the body. She will undergo voice therapy to learn to speak and sound like a woman and has spent $4,000 for electrolysis to remove facial hair.

    The sex-change operation itself is considered an elective procedure, so it is not covered by insurance and will cost upwards of $30,000. And there are other procedures -- breast augmentation and plastic surgery -- that Ouellette may also undergo to look more feminine.

    Then there are the small costs: applying for a new driver's license and Social Security card and getting new checks made. It all adds up.

    Not without precedent

    While the first in this state, Ouellette is not the first firefighter nationwide to have a sex change.

    In 1991, Michele Kammerer was a Los Angeles Fire Department captain who underwent a sex change operation. She is now retired and runs Transitions That Work, a consulting service for transsexuals who, as she did, plan to "transition" or undergo the sex change process while on the job.

    Kammerer said Ouellette contacted her late last year. Now, by phone and e-mail, Kammerer provides support and encouragement to Ouellette. "And I'm looking forward to meeting her," she said.

    What lies ahead won't be easy, though.

    Kammerer said Ouellette can expect to encounter some hostility, and some people will refuse to address her as a woman. "There were people who didn't want to be in the same room as me," Kammerer said. "There were people that didn't want to talk to me."

    At various times, Kammerer said she would use touches of humor to put co-workers at ease, reminding them, "This won't rub off. This isn't contagious."

    Studies have also shown that the most successful transsexuals are those who "stay on the job," she said.

    Just in the past decade, more transsexual workers have decided to transition while on the job, according to Kim Mills, a spokeswoman for the Human Rights Campaign, a Washington, D.C.-based gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered advocacy group.

    "There aren't a lot of good statistics on this out there," Mills said. "But I do know, just 10 to 15 years ago, this was a very private thing that was rarely spoken about in the workplace. People would transition and then move away. They'd have the surgery and then go off and make a new life for themselves."

    Now, she said, both transsexuals and employers are realizing that a sex-change operation doesn't have to mean an end to a career.

    "There's a much greater awareness out there," she said. "Employers spend thousands recruiting and training employees." The employee will change physically, she added, "but it doesn't mean that person still can't do the job."

    Making it work

    Ouellette is determined to make it work as a female firefighter, initially drawn to the job because of the excitement and variety of challenges the work promises. A bit of an adrenaline junkie, "as most firefighters are," Ouellette also "likes the fact that I'm making a difference."

    Ouellette's only regret is waiting until middle age to go forward with this surgery. But at the same time, she wonders what community 20 years ago would ever have allowed a male firefighter who becomes a woman to stay on the job.

    Mostly, however, Ouellette's looking forward -- not back.

    "I get to be what I want to be," Ouellette said, "and not lead a life I didn't want to lead."
    I dont suffer from insanity, I enjoy every minute of it.

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    This is al,now ali.
    I dont suffer from insanity, I enjoy every minute of it.

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    Massachusetts Firefighter Swaps Gender


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    MARIA WAICKOWSKI
    Firehouse.Com News

    Last Friday, a letter was sent out by the Danvers, Massachusetts Town Manager Wayne Marquis, to notify the Danvers Fire Department of firefighter Albert James Ouletteís sex change. Albert started the process to become Alishia Virginia Oulette. Alishia goes by the name Ali now.

    "Although the department did have prior knowledge that Ali was going to do this, it became official last week Ali, who has worked for our department for 6 and a half years has changed her name last week as part of the transition," said Tutko.

    This is the beginning of the process for Oulette that includes counseling and taking female hormones. She has not yet reached the surgery stage.

    The Danvers fire department is composed of 51 full-time firefighters, according to Danvers Fire Chief James Tutko. "They [the other firefighters] have treated Aliís case in a generally favorable manner and have handled themselves very professionally," he said.

    "It seems very clear that The Salem News [the local daily newspaper] is the only time in which she would be willing to talk to the press. She did so to educate people of her sex change and put her case in a positive light," said Tutko, "As of this morning she had no intention of being further interviewed." Marquis further said, "Aliís basic purpose was to be pro-active so that people will understand her case factually, not in drips and pieces," said Marquis, "She is not interested in making her story into something that is not."

    Tutko confirmed that Ali is the first Massachusetts firefighter to undergo a sex change and she is the first female firefighter in the Danvers fire departmentís 174-year history.

    Wayne Marquis, the Danvers Town Manager who sent the informational letter said, "The purpose of the letter was to inform them of Aliís case, inform the employees of her sex change and make sure that they clearly understood the anti-discrimination and harassment policy whether it was race, religion, etc. It was also to ask for their support for Ali and to provide contact phone numbers to receive further information and to answer any questions they may have," said Marquis.

    "Although I have not surveyed the state, I have been working for the town for at least 20 years and never in that time have I seen a situation like this occur with an employee of the town," Marquis said. "There are currently 750 employees serving the town including the schools."

    "I thought it was important to remind the employees that we do not discriminate," said Marquis.

    "If I were to characterize the reaction of the fire department after this letter was sent out and Aliís case has been known, I would say itís professional, understanding and supportive," said Marquis.

    "I was asked earlier if I was Ďshocked,í but I have been in this business for a long time and there is not much that Ďshocksí me, but since I have never encountered this situation before, it Ďsurprisedí me," said Marquis.

    "When the dust settles though, Ali will still be the same person inside when it comes to doing day-to-day jobs," Marquis said.
    I dont suffer from insanity, I enjoy every minute of it.

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    Default Re: OMG.......For the first time ever I am speechless........

    Originally posted by stm4710
    *******I know al, now ali personally from the explorers and I will say this and this only.......I dont agreee with his dicision but I know he is a TOP NOTCH firefighter and passed on my much knowledge to me and fellow explorers.************
    Jesse, it's irrelevant whether or not you agree with what this individual is choosing to do with his/her life. A decision has been made based on what best suits this person, obviously it is something that has tormented him/her for a very long time and now he/she is making a change that will make him/her happy. He/She doesn't need anyone's approval or permission to proceed with this change, what is needed is support from the Brothers. As a man he is a "TOP NOTCH" firefighter, and he will be as a woman too, he's having his peepee whacked off, not a frontal lobotomy so he/she will still be the same person ....... with a different look. While I don't pretend to understand those who seek this type of radical change, I do support their decision to do what it takes to make themselves happy and comfortable with themselves.
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    Has anyone tested breast implants at 400 degrees?

    That could be an UGLY BANG.
    Psychiatrists state 1 in 4 people has a mental illness.
    Look at three of your friends, if they are ok, your it.

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    Hahahaha Ian, I'm not so sure that men who receive sex change operations get implants; as far as I've ever read that's what the hormone therapy is for. I could be wrong though, who knows.
    To the world you might be one person, but to one person you just might be the world.

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    Jenn again you missed the boat. I posted that lil blurb incase someone came in here and bashed him/her about his/her firefighting ability based on this reason and this reason only-----thats all.

    And there are other procedures -- breast augmentation and plastic surgery -- that Ouellette may also undergo to look more feminine.
    Hahahaha Ian, I'm not so sure that men who receive sex change operations get implants; as far as I've ever read that's what the hormone therapy is for. I could be wrong though, who knows.


    On another note when the Explorer post was terminated the reason they gave me was they didnt want controversy over something that happend which was so small and stupid and they runied 3 peoples lives because of that.........Well now they got controversy 10 fold and its GLOBAL BABY!!!!!!!!!
    I dont suffer from insanity, I enjoy every minute of it.

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    Default Re: Re: OMG.......For the first time ever I am speechless........

    Originally posted by PFire23


    and he will be as a woman too, he's having his peepee whacked off, not a frontal lobotomy so he/she will still be the same person ....... with a different look.
    are you sure that the lobotomy is part of the procedure?

    Ok, it is his/her business, and in a perfect world he/she would relate to his/her crew the same way, but.....

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    Well now they got controversy 10 fold and its GLOBAL BABY

    This is controversial? You go, "Huh, wow..." and move on.
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    I can't believe I'm actually going to reply to one your posts, but this time I have to.

    On another note when the Explorer post was terminated the reason they gave me was they didnt want controversy over something that happend which was so small and stupid and they runied 3 peoples lives because of that
    No one's life will ever be ruined because an Explorer Post is terminated. Hundred's of thousands of FF's are living a happy life and have never been involved with an Explorer Post.

    Well now they got controversy 10 fold and its GLOBAL BABY!!!!!!!!!
    I guess I am missing this, but where/what is the controversy?
    "This thread is being closed as it is off-topic and not related to the fire industry." - Isn't that what the Off Duty forum was for?

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    Originally posted by stm4710
    Jenn again you missed the boat. I posted that lil blurb incase someone came in here and bashed him/her about his/her firefighting ability based on this reason and this reason only-----thats all.
    Jesse I didn't miss the boat on anything, you posted that YOU DIDN'T AGREE WITH HIS CHOICE, I merely said that it doesn't matter if you, the Chief, Goofy or the man in the freaken moon agreed it boils down to the fact that it's ULTIMATELY HIS FREAKEN CHOICE. I however, did miss the portion of the article that mentioned breast augmentation, but I will stand by my comment that the hormone therapy will cause breast growth.

    *******I know al, now ali personally from the explorers and I will say this and this only.......I dont agreee with his dicision but I know he is a TOP NOTCH firefighter and passed on my much knowledge to me and fellow explorers.************[
    Just in case you "forgot" your original words, or somehow they get "lost".



    And Jesse, in order to miss a boat there first must be a boat to catch, in full operating capacity.





    On another note when the Explorer post was terminated the reason they gave me was they didnt want controversy over something that happend which was so small and stupid and they runied 3 peoples lives because of that.........Well now they got controversy 10 fold and its GLOBAL BABY!!!!!!!!!
    Again, a sterling example of the maturity level you have going on.
    Last edited by PFire23; 02-12-2004 at 12:36 PM.
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    When I'm on nozzle, I don't care who's venting for me...man... woman...or otherwise..as long as they are cutting holes, that's all that matters.

    If this person is "Top Notch"...why exploit their situation on a message board?
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    First of all, Bravo, to those of you with mature responses. Iím impressed (so far) and pleased that this didnít turn into a school boy smirk fest.

    I had to deal with a situation just like this in the early 80ís. The company I was working for had a customer with rather serious problems with one of our products. Chris, the customer's engineer and I worked a lot of hours together to try to resolve the problem. Chris went away for a while and came back as Christine. When next I worked with Christine I have to admit that I was very uneasy, I was young and didnít have any idea of how to act. Turned out that Christineís fellow employees showed me the way, their opinion was that Chris was a good person and a fine engineer and that Christine was too. In the end not much changed, Christine seemed to have a good attitude about it, her fellow employees had a good attitude about it and I ended up with a good attitude about it. Case closed.

    stm4710,
    If your having a problem with this then I will give you the benefit of the doubt and assume that you are young and donít know how to act either. If Ali is a good person and a top notch firefighter then everything will probably work out fine. Itís not required that you be Aliís best friend but it is required that you show compassion to someone who is going through something we canít even understand. If Ali can function respectably then respect is what you have to give her.

    Bill.

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    Exclamation

    posted by stm4710

    On another note when the Explorer post was terminated the reason they gave me was they didnt want controversy over something that happend which was so small and stupid and they runied 3 peoples lives because of that.........Well now they got controversy 10 fold and its GLOBAL BABY!!!!!!!!!
    Jesse... you should just mind your own business. Gloating over the story making headlines makes you look like the "northbound" end of a southbound mule.
    ‎"The education of a firefighter and the continued education of a firefighter is what makes "real" firefighters. Continuous skill development is the core of progressive firefighting. We learn by doing and doing it again and again, both on the training ground and the fireground."
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    Talking

    whflhff
    You put it very well. I concur with all you wrote.

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    Well when I say controversey...........I guess you would have to live in this town to understand.
    I dont suffer from insanity, I enjoy every minute of it.

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    Say it ??????????

    Try spellink it.

    Controversy

    PS. It's a small controversy.
    Psychiatrists state 1 in 4 people has a mental illness.
    Look at three of your friends, if they are ok, your it.

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    Originally posted by FlyingKiwi
    It's a small controversy.
    As opposed to a huge controversy!
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    To Ali, I say,
    YOU GO GIRL!

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    1. I wish her luck in her endeavor

    2. Why is anyone surprised at Jesse's immaturity? He demonstrates it for us in almost every post.
    "We shouldn't be opening firehouses in Baghdad and closing them in New York City."

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    Wanna hear something that really sucks Duff? I have to work with a kid who is very VERY similar
    To the world you might be one person, but to one person you just might be the world.

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    Oh great the diversity people--------our towns answer to a question NO ONE asked!!!!!

    I have complete faith in the Danvers Fire departments firefighters in acting like professionals in this situation......the last thing needed though is the diversity people comeing and shoveing this down there throats---let them take it there own way.
    I have seen,especially at my HS that if you dont agree with them 150% they label you as a homophobe or hater......what ever the $10 buzz word of the week is from MTV is. Oh well......I wish the best to Ali and the rest of the department in the times ahead.



    Call for acceptance follows firefighter's sex change admission

    By Jill Harmacinski

    Staff writer


    DANVERS -- The chairman of the town's diversity committee is calling for acceptance and support of a town firefighter who plans to have a sex-change operation.

    "This is something culturally we are not used to, but I hope people can look at her and accept her as a person," David McKenna, diversity committee chairman, said yesterday.

    Alishia "Ali" Ouellette, 50, is the first Massachusetts firefighter to undergo a sex change and the first female firefighter in the 174-year history of the Danvers Fire Department.

    Formerly named Albert James, Ouellette was featured in a page 1 story in The Salem News yesterday.

    "I know this is not common, but occasionally it happens. Sometimes people feel they are trapped in the wrong body," McKenna said yesterday when asked for his reaction to the article.

    Formed in 1990, the diversity committee educates residents about cultural differences by sponsoring annual dinners, programs and events, McKenna said.

    While many residents can't relate to what Ouellette is going through, McKenna is hoping they can accept Ouellette as an individual.

    "It's really up to all of us to be supportive," McKenna said. "She's a Danversite. She's one of us. We each have our own differences. ... And we should all try to accept what we each bring into the mix."

    Ouellette legally changed her name to Alishia Virginia Ouellette last week. She then asked town officials and fellow firefighters to call her Ali and refer to her only as a woman. Now undergoing intensive counseling and hormone therapy, Ouellette must live as a woman for the next year, perhaps two, before she can have the actual sex-change surgery.

    Town officials, including Fire Chief James Tutko, recognize Ouellette as a female and have asked the department to support Ouellette through this difficult time in her life. Fire chiefs in neighboring communities agreed Danvers is handling the situation well.

    "Everybody has the right to live the life they want to live. I'd make the same accommodations," Beverly Fire Chief Richard Pierce said yesterday.

    "A person is a firefighter, whether they are male or female," Pierce added.

    Peabody Fire Chief Steve Pasdon agreed. It doesn't really matter whether Ouellette is male or female, as long as she's qualified to do the job of a firefighter.

    "As long as she's able and willing to do the job, I don't think anyone should have a problem with it," Pasdon said.

    But many interviewed yesterday agreed acceptance would take time and patience. Pasdon suggested more education at the Fire Department about transsexuals, people who want to change from one sex to another, could be helpful.

    "In a perfect world, you'd try to get people to embrace this as much as they can," he said.

    According to Brian Barry, president of the Danvers firefighters' union, some firefighters view Ouellette's decision as appalling and confusing.

    That may or may not change with time, said McKenna.

    "I'm sure this is something she wrestled with for a long time before a decision was made," McKenna said. "Personally, I offer her my support and best wishes for a happy future, and I hope everyone feels the same way."
    I dont suffer from insanity, I enjoy every minute of it.

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    Well, personally I don't care what this person does with themself. I have learned that if it makes you happy then do it; screw everyone else!!! As for being a firefighter, if she can back you up on a line or get that roof opened or any of the other essentials, then she is O.K. in my book.

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    OH boy or errrrr girl ....like others have said as they being their replies...."I can't beleive I am actually replying to this!" But..

    I have to say that I agree with PFIRE, Bones 42 and Gonzo on this one. It is not our concern and there is no need for us to approve and if we don't then we should mind our business. As long is it does not affect the way the person performs in their job, then let it alone. And again....an explorer post closing is not a need to raise the national threat level. It may be an inconvenience for a while, but there are other explorer posts and those who really want to will "move on" and join another.

    As the Duffman says....Good luck....

    You go girlfriend!!!!!

    Now..let's move on.
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    I just find it ironic that after all of those years supporting the Explorers, Ali would do something which would certainly cause her to be rejected as a member of the Explorers should she wish to join. The BSA, which is the parent organisation of the Explorer program, has had federal funding cut because of it's homophobic, exclusionist policies. If she has stayed with the program we would most certainly be reading about how the BSA would have asked for her to resign.
    You did the right thing, Ali.
    You go girl.

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