Lieutenant Shachar joined the Israeli Defense Forces as a woman. Throughout his military service, he went through the unique and complicated process of changing his gender. Identifying himself as a man, he has become the first openly transgender officer in the IDF.
Within 24 hours of arriving at his training base, Shachar approached his commander to talk to her about his needs. “I wasn’t ready to tell everyone around me, but I did choose to talk to my commanders. I understood that if I wanted any consideration I needed to be honest with them.” The commander understood the situation and gave Shachar a separate time to shower on his own, and special permission to only wear his field uniform (which is the same for men and women). This way he could go through training avoiding situations that would make him feel uncomfortable.
“During training I chose to keep my orientation to myself and not speak about it. When people asked I elegantly avoided answering. Back then I had a very clear ideology; it was important for me to succeed in my service, and I was convinced that being open about my gender would just create needless conflicts that could distract me from doing my job.”
During officer’s training course Shachar came to the understanding that he had to “come out” about his gender orientation. He realized that if he wanted to be a successful officer and have good relationships with his soldiers, he would have to be honest with them. “As an officer-in-training I understood that I wanted to have an honest and trustworthy relationship with my soldiers, which meant I had to be able to tell them who I really am.”