Israel’s First Transgender Army Officer Celebrates Pride at Embassy Event

The Jewish Telegraphic Agency reports: WASHINGTON (JTA) – When Shachar was 2 years old, she asked her parents to keep her hair short. When she was 5, she asked them to throw out every skirt in her closet.

When Shachar was 16, he realized he was a boy, and when he was 19 he got the army, Israel’s most daunting bureaucracy, to add a pocket to his uniform shirt — a small but significant difference signifying maleness.

Shachar, now a lieutenant in the Israel Defense Forces, spoke here Monday night at a gay pride month event at the Israeli Embassy, explaining in hesitant and nervous tones how he became its first transgender officer. (Active duty personnel in the IDF do not reveal last names.)

“This is the right of the whole world, to be free and to be whoever we want to be,” Shachar said, with an unmistakable nod to last week’s massacre at a gay nightclub in Orlando carried out by a man who pledged fealty to the Islamic State.

The mass shooting, which killed 49 people, hung heavy over the event. Also speaking was Omar Sharif Jr., the grandson of the Egyptian actor, who said the previous week had been a “nightmare” for him both as an Arab and a gay man.

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