Jace’s Story

Jace is a member of RAINN’s Speakers Bureau, a peer advocate, a trans activist, and a survivor of military sexual trauma (MST).

One of the first people to respond to Jace in a positive way to his experience was a fellow soldier, who was one of his only remaining allies after he reported.

He reflected on disclosing and shared that the fellow soldier “helped me get out of a hostile environment. Reflecting back on that, I had one person at the very least who believed me from the start to the end, and she was really nice.”

Jace recently took the Basic Sexual Assault Training (BSAT). Jace started to engage in services for the trans community who have experienced sexual assault or domestic violence. He shares feedback from the training that he took.

“There are no services, by and for trans people. I’ve been searching and contacting LGBT centers across the country from New York to San Francisco, from Chicago to LA, in Austin and Atlanta, and I’m coming up short for any support that I could find for myself.”

Jace also went to therapy offered by the Vet Center. In therapy, his therapist looked around through the Veterans Affairs and found that there is no support specifically for trans survivors of MST.

“Although there are LGBT support groups, and there may be LGBT support for MST - it’s different being in a shared gender space. Unless you are with people who really get what you are going through, they can pile things on your shoulders that you don’t need there when you are trying to be in a healing space.”

In March of 2020, Jace went to the Federal Way Vet Center and attended a workshop on traumatic brain injuries (TBI), post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and MST.

“At this workshop, I learned about who to contact, which was a MST coordinator and I learned that sexual harassment by a service member qualifies for free mental health services through the Vet Center across the country. If someone has served one day of active duty service, and has experienced anything from sexual harassment to sexual assault, they may qualify for some level of veteran benefits. I think this is important information that people should have that I didn't know I had at the time.”

While Jace attended therapy with a MST coordinator, his therapist said that what he experienced was egregious.

“She could see how impacting it was for me and still is for me, nearly 20 years later. She got me connected and helped me deal with the anxiety after applying for my benefit.” Jace says he was coerced into giving his child up for adoption through a crisis pregnancy center outside of Atlanta in 2000. Once Jace was approved to receive veterans benefits, he was able to reconnect with the child he gave up for adoption when he was 18-years old in 2022, who now lives with him and his spouse. Jace shares that “it changed my life connecting with the Federal Way Vet Center.”

For survivors considering whether or not to come forward, Jace shares a message of hope.

“For me, I reported. What that means for me, is that I have this deep drive for justice. I fought in a certain way and that energy stuck with me as a blessing and a curse. For instance, I have spoken out but I know I have to be selective about that. I’ve been advised by people at the VA to get connected with survivor centered organizations and put my energy there. Rather than going to a filmmaker or journalist, I want to have as much power and control over my story as I can. Remember, to also have patience with yourself.”

Jace shares a message to survivors.

“Recovery from sexual assault can look a lot like recovery from chronic pain. Over time and with support, you learn how to deal with the pain, how to manage it and make it less intense and what to do when flare ups happen. It’s taken me years of hard work and reaching out for support to get a handle on my struggles and I’m still working on it.”