“Females are strong, lifting weights and chewing tobacco,” said Sergeant Christine Beck, a former senior US Navy SEAL commander, in a meeting of transgender military personnel from 18 countries, including Israel.
The meeting, concentrating on transgender military service around the world and the first international conference ever of transgender military service, has taken place in the US. In addition to the US and Israel, the conference included transgender military personnel from Britain, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and Sweden.
According to estimates, today in the US Army nearly 15,500 transgender people are serving. Most of them are registered under their birth gender and have avoided the change of appearance that will disclose their identification as transgender, since under the laws of the Pentagon, if their identity is revealed, the military will have to release them.
In the IDF, since last year, transgender soldiers can serve without having to lie about their identity; in fact, in May this year the IDF already boasts its first transgender officer.
Transgender rights advocates are pressuring the Pentagon to reconsider its 2010 statement in which Congress overturned the law banning gays, lesbians and bisexuals for service, in order to include transgender people as well.
Opposition leader in the US House of Representatives, Nancy Fallows, has already announced that she supports the abolition of the rules prohibiting transgender people serving in the military. She said she believes that there is no place for discrimination in the US Army, including on the basis of gender identity.