Meet Israel’s First Out Transgender Military Officer

Meet Israel’s First Out Transgender Military Officer

click photo for more information
Meet Israel’s First Out Transgender Military Officer
“When you feel accepted and happy as who you are, you want to do your best as a soldier — as a person.” View this image › Shachar, in his uniform, his face cropped due to his active service per Israeli military policy Sheera Frenkel for BuzzFeed News For army officer Shachar, serving in the […]

“When you feel accepted and happy as who you are, you want to do your best as a soldier — as a person.”

Shachar, in his uniform, his face cropped due to his active service per Israeli military policy Sheera Frenkel for BuzzFeed News

For army officer Shachar, serving in the IDF was the first time he felt like a real man.

The 21-year-old is the Israeli army’s first out transgender officer, after completing a training course last year that earned him the promotion.

“How can I explain it? For me, serving in the army and being recognized for who I really am by my fellow soldiers made me feel like a real man for the first time in my life. It made me feel like myself,” said Shachar, who asked to be quoted using his preferred pseudonym to protect his identity as an active member of the Israeli Defense Force (IDF).

At a time when most of the world’s militaries still officially ban gay and lesbian soldiers from serving, Shachar’s military service stands apart. Not only did he experience support from his unit and commanding officers, but his case prompted the Israeli military to fast-track new protocols now in place that range from tolerance training for senior officers to ensuring that the military would cover the cost of hormone treatments and sex reassignment surgery.

He is now speaking internationally, hoping his case can help transform the attitudes of militaries like the United States, which has embraced lesbian, gay, and bisexual soldiers but still will not allow trans soldiers to serve. While Shachar says he knows that Israel is accused of “pinkwashing” — or using its progressive stance toward the LGBT community to brush over human rights abuses toward Palestinians — for him and others interviewed by BuzzFeed News the positions taken by Israel’s military were an indication of a functional army, rather than a political talking point.

Shachar said the health insurance he has through the army paid for his hormone therapy and preapproved him for surgery whenever he was ready for that step.

“When you feel accepted and happy as who you are, you want to do your best as a soldier — as a person,” said Shachar. “I was so nervous to ask, and when I did the doctor told me he had already and asked and received approval for the surgery. Really, it was a shock to me as well that everyone was so supportive.”

While the U.K. last month accepted its first out transgender officer, the U.S. and many other countries continue to ban transgender people from serving in their militaries. Even as gay, lesbian, and bisexual Americans have been able to serve freely since the repeal of “don’t ask, don’t tell” in September 2011, a medical regulatory ban still prohibits transgender military service, forcing the estimated 15,000 transgender soldiers currently serving in the armed forces to remain closeted.

“It’s hard for me, hearing how it is in other countries,” said Shachar. “Luckily for me, it wasn’t like that. My family was supportive and then the army was supportive.”

He acknowledged, however, that he grew up in a secular, progressive community, and that during his army service he did not have any interactions with the haredi, a term for ultraorthodox religious Israelis, whose units of the IDF are known as being more conservative.

“I really didn’t come across anyone who was offended by me or against me,” he said. “I didn’t have to struggle with that.”

Shachar smiles when talking about his early days in basic training in 2012. He smiles more when recalling how, after filling out his enlistment paperwork as a woman, he decided to take male rather than female fatigues.

“I thought I was inventing the wheel, the whole issue was less discussed back then. I thought someone would notice, I thought they would care. But nobody said anything,” he said. While the IDF has long had out transgender soldiers, his was the first case of a transgender officer. “I had initially thought it would be easier to just serve as a woman, to not make a big deal or talk about it. But in the end I felt comfortable and safe to slowly begin to talk to those around me.”

He recalled how an officer gave him extra uniforms so that he wouldn’t have to do the laundry as often or change clothes in front of his fellow soldiers. Another officer arranged for him to get private shower hours. And then, one afternoon, while his unit was gathered for a briefing, he stood up and told his fellow soldiers that he was transgender.

“They were curious, they had questions, but mostly they were very happy for me,” said Shachar. “Now, as an officer, I am identified as male. When I leave the army my paperwork will be stamped as a male. I think that’s an amazing thing, to have those two papers to see that progression.”

Shachar said that he’s seen a huge change in the IDF since he enlisted, and he has since counseled young transgender soldiers who reach out to him for advice.

“Today you don’t ask anyone about their sexual needs or behavior. According to Israeli law, men and women have to join the army and during their physical exams in enlistment no one asks them or probes about their private sexual habits,” said Brig. Gen. Rachel Tevet-Weisel, an advisor for LGBT and women’s issues in the IDF. She said the shift toward accepting the LGBT community in the IDF began in the 1980s and has evolved in the decades since. Tevet-Weisel’s office only intervenes when sexuality becomes a problem for the soldiers, such as when they make requests for separate showers or changing stations.

Israeli law stipulates that nationals can only begin the sex reassignment process after the age of 18, the same age that all Israeli men and women are required to join the armed services.

“Some of them come with documents and say they are starting the process. In those cases we think how we can help them whether it’s with uniforms or a special permit to have long hair,” said Tevet-Weisel. “If there is a soldier who enlists as a man, but along his service wants to be addressed using female terms, then we do that.”

And while Tevet-Weisel said the army focuses on educating all of its soldiers and officers on tolerance and respect, there are always cases, she said, that fall through the cracks.

Ayelet, an IDF soldier in the third and final year of service, told BuzzFeed News that fellow soldiers called her “lesbian” and “ugly” when she decided to cut her hair short. Ayelet was still unsure whether she wants to be referred to by male or female terms, and asked to be identified by only her first name as she was in active service.

“Some people were tolerant, and others were terrible,” said Ayelet, who spoke to BuzzFeed News by phone from her base in southern Israel. “The officers were very good about stepping in and stopping the harassment once it started, and giving me space to figure things out for myself.”

It’s not easy, she said, to be in the army while also trying to figure out something as personal as sexuality.

“For some people who know who they are what they are it might be more straightforward. For those of us who are confused, it’s a complicated process no matter what,” she said.

correction

BuzzFeed changed the officer’s name to Shachar at his request. An earlier version of this story referred to him by a different name. BF_STATIC.timequeue.push(function () { document.getElementById(“update_article_correction_time_4853990”).innerHTML = UI.dateFormat.get_formatted_date(‘2015-02-04 12:49:22 -0500’, ‘update’); });

Read more: http://www.buzzfeed.com/sheerafrenkel/meet-israels-first-openly-transgender-military-officer

Christie Brinkley gets candid on her love life: There’s ‘nobody right now’

click photo for more information
Christie Brinkley gets candid on her love life: There’s ‘nobody right now’
When it comes to Christie Brinkleys love life, the 63-year-old supermodel admitted there nobody right now. Im loving my summer and [Im] kind of really too busy [to date], she told ETOnline. But Id slow it down a little if the right person came along. A post shared by Alexa Ray Joel (@alexarayjoel) on Jul […]

How I Went From Working A Desk Job To Publishing A Poetry Book In 4 Years

click photo for more information
How I Went From Working A Desk Job To Publishing A Poetry Book In 4 Years
💕😭 my book is in preorder !! so fricken excited for these words that started as feelings to be something people will hold in their hands. 💕 (and blessed by kj parish's incredible design). . . . . . #poetry #poetrycommunity #poetsofinstagram #poetryisnotdead #writersofinstagram #writing #thoughtcatalog #wearealljustacollectionofcords A post shared by Chrissy Stockton (@x.lane.s) on […]

Malady Nation: Regulating India’s regressive health insurance

click photo for more information
Malady Nation: Regulating India’s regressive health insurance
Three quarters of India’s population has no health insurance. Union Health Minister Jagat Prakash Nadda said in May 2016, that only about 24 per cent of the population has some form of medical insura Read more: http://www.thehindu.com/sci-tech/health/policy-and-issues/malady-nation-regulating-indias-regressive-health-insurance/article8970327.ece?utm_source=RSS_Feed&utm_medium=RSS&utm_campaign=RSS_Syndication

He Went To The Most Toxic City In America And The Resulting Photos Are Chilling

click photo for more information
He Went To The Most Toxic City In America And The Resulting Photos Are Chilling
Urban Explorer Seph Lawless is known for exploring empty, eerie places — and Picher, Oklahoma, is definitely one of the most unsettling. Picher started out as a promising mining town in 1918, but today, it is known as the most toxic city in America. After years of water contamination and sludge buildup, the whole town […]

‘Fixer Upper’ couples defend Chip and Joanna: What the Gaineses are really like

click photo for more information
‘Fixer Upper’ couples defend Chip and Joanna: What the Gaineses are really like
WACO, Texas –  Chip and Joanna Gaines have learned the hard way that with success comes scrutiny. The stars of HGTV’s wildly successful show “Fixer Upper” have made headlines lately for the wrong reasons. Chip Gaines is embroiled in a $1 million dollar lawsuit with his former business partners and the design duo was accused of deceiving a […]

Facial, not racial: University boss walks back racism allegation over Snapchat pic | Fox News

click photo for more information
Facial, not racial: University boss walks back racism allegation over Snapchat pic | Fox News
The chancellor of University of Wisconsin-Whitewater backtracked on statements alleging racism after two students posted this picture on Snapchat. (Fox6Now.com) It wasnt racial, it was just a facial. When two students at University of Wisconsin-Whitewater posted a picture on Snapchat wearing what appeared to be blackface, the school’s chancellor quickly – and publicly – condemned […]

Chrissy Teigen Just Did Something INCREDIBLE For This Beauty School Student

click photo for more information
Chrissy Teigen Just Did Something INCREDIBLE For This Beauty School Student
…AND GETS ALL UP IN YOUR FACEBOOK

9 Life Hacks To Help Avoid (And Get Rid Of) Acne Now And Forever

click photo for more information
9 Life Hacks To Help Avoid (And Get Rid Of) Acne Now And Forever
Theres nothing worse (well, almost nothing) than waking up to a big zit on your face. When you have acne or even when you just have a once-in-a-while breakout, it can make you feel self-conscious and uncomfortable. Sometimes the best way to deal with a breakout is to prevent it from happening initially. There are […]

She Took Her Daughter In For A Free Eye Exam And It Ended Up Saving Her Life

click photo for more information
She Took Her Daughter In For A Free Eye Exam And It Ended Up Saving Her Life
Most optometrists and eye care clinics offer free eye exams for new patients. In most cases, this is done simply to add new patients to the roster in hopes that the exams will result in returning customers. One pre-teen in New Zealand, however, walked into an eye care clinic looking for a new pair of […]

These 14 Colorful Bodies Of Water Look Too Cool To Be Real, But They Are

click photo for more information
These 14 Colorful Bodies Of Water Look Too Cool To Be Real, But They Are
googletag.cmd.push(function() { googletag.display(‘VN_PG_DTBT_ATF’); }); Nature is pretty incredible, isn’t it? Sometimes, we get so caught up in our daily lives that we forget that there’s a whole world out there to explore. Although every city, town, and country has its fair share of man-made tourist attractions, natural landmarks really pique my interest. Maybe I just […]

17 Shocking Confessions From Gun Owners That’ll Really Make You Think

click photo for more information
17 Shocking Confessions From Gun Owners That’ll Really Make You Think
The second amendment of the U.S. Constitution grants Americans the right to bear arms, but in the wake of recent events, the war over gun control has become a hot-button issue. With factors such as media attention and political pressures adding fuel to the fire, the issue of gun control has unfortunately divided the nation. […]

Woman’s Pic Before-And-After Makeup Gets Real About Flaws Social Media Hides

click photo for more information
Woman’s Pic Before-And-After Makeup Gets Real About Flaws Social Media Hides
Beck Lomas has a lot going for her. The 22-year-old Australian woman posts Instagrams to nearly 200,000 followers, inspiring them with her dedication to fitness and a brilliant smile. But, as youve probably realized by now, its easy to hide your flaws behind a filter. A few weeks ago, Lomas got real with her fans, […]

Valeant Turns From Buyer to Seller as Debt Repayments Loom

click photo for more information
Valeant Turns From Buyer to Seller as Debt Repayments Loom
Over the last six years, Valeant Pharmaceuticals International Inc. piled up a mountain of debt building its business through more than 50 acquisitions. It now may have to sell some of those very same assets to help pay off almost $5 billion that will come due by or during 2018. If that sounded bad enough, […]

‘Largest-ever’ Silicon Valley eviction to displace hundreds of tenants

click photo for more information
‘Largest-ever’ Silicon Valley eviction to displace hundreds of tenants
Demolition of 216-unit complex is the latest example of rising income inequality in a region home to many of the worlds wealthiest technology companies Iris Milano could hardly sleep after she got the news that her family would be kicked out of their two-bedroom apartment in San Jose. Youre always thinking and worrying. Its something […]

Chrissy Teigen Becomes This Aspiring Esthetician’s Fairy Godmother!

click photo for more information
Chrissy Teigen Becomes This Aspiring Esthetician’s Fairy Godmother!
What a super story! Mercedes Edney, who owns her own skincare company, had only received about $300 with her crowd-sourcing campaign to raise money so she could attend esthetician school in Charlotte, North Carolina. That’s when Chrissy stepped up and paid the remaining $5,600 so that Mercedes could fulfill her dreams! After being thanked, Chrissy […]
More