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Transgender Army Veteran Undergoes Sex Reassignment at 74

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Denee Mallon pumps gas into her Ford Mustang in Albuquerque, New Mexico. "They say until you have the surgery you don't realize what effect it has on your psyche and on your whole being, something almost magical occurs. I think, 'Yeah something goes on.' I'm going to find out really soon," said Mallon, who recently turned 75. Mallon, an Army veteran and transgender woman, is one of the first people to have Medicare pay for her sex reassignment surgery.

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Mallon holds a photo of herself from 1957, when she was known as Dennis Mallon, a U.S. Army private in basic training at Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri.

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Mallon puts on makeup early in the morning in her Albuquerque home. “I can remember feeling kind of like I was a girl from a very early age,” she said.

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When Mallon was 11 years old, she had a paper route. "I had my own spending money and I figured out that I could go into a place, buy makeup, buy lipstick, and whatnot, and say, ‘Well, it's for my girlfriend or my sister’ -- make up a story about why I was buying it."

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Mallon walks by her closet in her Albuquerque home. "I can remember feeling kind of like I was a girl from a very early age," she said.

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A snapshot shows Mallon moments before her third marriage in Reno, Nevada when Denee was Dennis. "We got married in 1980, I don't know when. Got divorced a year later but always stayed together in some way, shape, or form as a couple for thirty years," she said.

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Johanna James, 84, helps Mallon, her good friend, get into a hospital gown before the sex reassignment surgery at Weiss Memorial Hospital in Chicago. Jamas, also a transgender woman, underwent the same surgery a decade ago. She drove Mallon from her home in Albuquerque to Chicago. Mallon, an Army veteran and transgender woman, is one of the first people to have Medicare pay for her sex reassignment surgery.

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Medical staff prepare Mallon for surgery in an operating room at Weiss Memorial Hospital in Chicago.

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Dr. Loren Schechter, center, operates on Mallon at Weiss Memorial Hospital in Chicago.


Complete Story: Medicare Win Opens Door for Transgender Seniors

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