CBS News has an interview with transgender soldier Landon Wilson, who transitioned while in the military and who was honorably discharged in 2013 because the U.S. military still does not accept trans soldiers in it’s ranks.
In 2011, the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” allowed gays, lesbians and bisexuals in the military to serve openly. But the ban on service by transgender people continues, because it is based on military medical regulations put in place before the American Psychiatric Association declared, in 2013, that being transgender is not in itself a mental disorder.
Last July, President Obama signed an executive order “prohibiting federal contractors from discriminating on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity.” But that does not apply to the military.
“It was a Command Sergeant Major in Afghanistan who pulled me to his office and he said, ‘I need to know exactly what you are,'” recalled Landon Wilson.
What Wilson was, was transgender. In his case, born biologically a female but living as a male. His commanding officer uncovered his secret at the end of 2013 while reviewing then 23-year-old Wilson for a promotion. He was forced to leave the military with an honorable discharge. He says he was worried about his buddies and the mission.
“My main concern was who was gonna take my spot?” Wilson said. “When you’re in a place like that, you can’t really afford to lose anybody.”
Wilson had enlisted as a female then decided to transition. That meant beginning to live and express himself as the gender he identified with. He took male hormones and by the time he was deployed to a new unit with military intelligence in Afghanistan, he looked and sounded masculine and was placed in a male barracks.
“It was the best experience of my entire military career,” said Wilson. “It was probably the only time that I knew 100 percent that I could focus on my job without worrying about my gender coming into play.”