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

Anne Rice Opens Up: I Feel Like Im Gay

click photo for more information
Anne Rice Opens Up: I Feel Like Im Gay
The acclaimed vampire author discusses her latest novel, Prince Lestat and the Realms of Atlantis, adapting her own Game of Thrones-style TV show, and the election of Trump. “> Forty years ago, Anne Rices debut novel, Interview with the Vampire, brought vampirism out of the shadows and into the light. Her initial foray into the […]

25 European Castles That Will Make You Hate Your Apartment. Great… Thanks Europe.

click photo for more information
25 European Castles That Will Make You Hate Your Apartment. Great… Thanks Europe.
Who wouldn’t want to live in a castle if they had the chance? The old kings and queens of Europe had it right when they built these. Not only are they luxurious, but they’re also super good at repelling invading armies and also probably Jehovah Witnesses. Here are 25 of the best ones for you to fantasize over […]

This Is Why Women Should Start Shaving Their Faces

click photo for more information
This Is Why Women Should Start Shaving Their Faces
Because waxing hurts and laser hair removal costs $$$. 1. FACT: It’s totally normal for a woman to shave her face if she wants to get rid of facial hair. View this image › reactiongifs.com “There’s no reason why a woman shouldn’t shave her face as a means of hair removal,” dermatologist Dr. David E. […]

7 Ways To Be A Natural Beauty From A Girl Who Hates Makeup

click photo for more information
7 Ways To Be A Natural Beauty From A Girl Who Hates Makeup
I want to just spit it out, I absolutely hate make up. Putting on make up is by far the worst part of my day. Contouring whatever that means? Yeah, too much work for me. I am a mascara and go kinda girl. I believe in enhancing your natural beauty. Some girls may believe they […]

18 Kids Who Are So Darn Happy, That It’s 100% Infectious

click photo for more information
18 Kids Who Are So Darn Happy, That It’s 100% Infectious
As adults, we’re all too caught up in our work lives to focus on making ourselves happy. That’s probably the one thing I miss most about being a kid. Everything just appeared to be filled with pure, unadulterated joy, and even the tiniest things could put a smile on my face. Small children really understand […]

She Compared Breast Milk To Formula Under A Microscope — Here’s What She Saw

click photo for more information
She Compared Breast Milk To Formula Under A Microscope — Here’s What She Saw
When it comes to choosing between breastfeeding or formula feeding, I believe either one is a great option. However, I can’t deny that breast milk is pretty amazing stuff. It protects against infections, reduces the rate of health problems down the road, and it has the support of the American Academy of Pediatrics, who strongly […]

Two Years After Giving Birth To Her ‘Miracle Baby,’ This Mom Had To Say Goodbye

click photo for more information
Two Years After Giving Birth To Her ‘Miracle Baby,’ This Mom Had To Say Goodbye
When little Eli Thompson from Alabama was born in 2015, people called him a “miracle baby.” As soon as his mother, Brandi McGlathery first saw her baby boy, she says she “stood there for a second, and I said something is wrong with him. And my doctor said no, he’s perfectly fine. And I said […]

5 Ways To Use Coffee In Your Morning Routine Without Actually Drinking It

click photo for more information
5 Ways To Use Coffee In Your Morning Routine Without Actually Drinking It
If you indulge in a daily caffeine fix when you wake up in the morning, I’ll bet you’ve probablybeen underestimating the benefits of those wholesome grounds you dump in the trash. It turns out, coffee is multifaceted AF. It’s . For all the times that you’ve wasted money on expensive, trendy beauty products to add […]

Serena Williams Shines Light On A Form Of Domestic Abuse People Rarely Notice

click photo for more information
Serena Williams Shines Light On A Form Of Domestic Abuse People Rarely Notice
Financial abuse, also called economic abuse, is a real thing that tennis star and mom-to-be, Serena Williams, is determined toshine a light on. The star athletehas just joined the Allstate Purple Purse Foundation, an organization that raises money to fight domestic violence, including financial abuse, as reported byMic. According to WomensLaw.org, financial abuse happens when […]

5 Skin Care Resolutions You Need To Keep In 2017

click photo for more information
5 Skin Care Resolutions You Need To Keep In 2017
NYE kickstarts one of the worst parts of the year. The part when people decide to “reinvent” themselves by doing paltry things like “drinking less” and “not crying alone at night because they have deep-rooted self-hatred and intimacy issues.” News flash: It might be a new year, but if your life still sucks, consider the […]

After Tragedy Hit, This Family Wants You To Know What To Do During Allergic Reactions

click photo for more information
After Tragedy Hit, This Family Wants You To Know What To Do During Allergic Reactions
Even the most careful kids can sometimes consume foods they’re allergic to. Sadly, that’s just what happened when Oakley Debbs took a bite out of a pound cake recently. Oakley had a tree nut and peanut allergy, and his parents say he was usually very careful about checking labels. This time, however, he was hungry […]

NITI Aayog to rank states on social sector performance – Times of India

click photo for more information
NITI Aayog to rank states on social sector performance – Times of India
States will be ranked on the basis of their performance in social sector including health and education. Read more: http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/NITI-Aayog-to-rank-states-on-social-sector-performance/articleshow/53421099.cms

7 Mistakes That Are Making Your Chapped Lips Worse

click photo for more information
7 Mistakes That Are Making Your Chapped Lips Worse
For Glamour, by Deanna Pai. Courtesy of CNP Montrose Using the Wrong Formula Wearing Lipstick 24/7 Lip color is not exactly a priority in the winter months, since if you have chapped lips, you need re-up on the balm whenever you head outdoors. As with sangria and snow, it is possible to have too much […]

Father Creates The Most Adorable ‘Beauty And The Beast’ Photos With His Daughter

click photo for more information
Father Creates The Most Adorable ‘Beauty And The Beast’ Photos With His Daughter
Some dads will do just about anything to pull off an epic surprise for their daughters. Josh Rossi is no exception. Just in time for Valentine’s Day, the professional photographer set out to create an unforgettable “Beauty and the Beast” photo series for his three-year-old daughter Nellee. He first traveled to Germany, where he took […]

26 Perfect Ways To Kick The Clutter Messing Up Your Life To The Curb.

click photo for more information
26 Perfect Ways To Kick The Clutter Messing Up Your Life To The Curb.
It might start with one small, stray item strewn on your desk or any convenient flat surface. Before you know it, you’ve created full-on clutter chaos. Lots of little things turn into one big mess in no time at all. But there’s a light at the end of the unorganized avalanche, and the solutions aren’t […]
More