Lance Cpl. Aaron Wixson is one of the first transgender marines to serve while transitioning from female to male. On October 1, the military changed from the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy that was in force during the Clinton administration to an open one. Military personnel can transition while serving if they follow the correct protocol.
In 2014, Wixson entered the military after attending Oklahoma’s Rogers State University for one semester on a golf scholarship. At the time, he was living as a woman but was excited to serve in the military after the Pentagon changed its rules about women serving in combat, reported CNN.
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It seems as though the small things in life are what’s important to Wixson — like being able to attend the annual Marine Corps Ball in men’s dress blues rather than the women’s dress blues that he wore this past Friday. It is one of his goals for next year’s Ball, noted the Independent. After his breasts are removed in May 2017, Wixson can then wear men’s uniforms.
“I will feel that I am finally seen as who I really am. I will be 100 times more comfortable, physically and mentally — which will allow me to really enjoy the ball.”
Wixson was born a female and his birth name is Ariel. The 20-year-old’s road to a diagnosis of gender dysphoria by a military physician seems to have been a long one. The transgender field artillery radar operator said that he always realized that he was different from a young age, excelling at sports, wanting boys for friends, and wanting to wear boys’ clothes. In high school, Wixson came out as a lesbian and said he was then fine with that. It was during his junior year that he learned about the Marines and knew that he would like to become a part of it.
He later realized that keeping up with males as a then woman was a distraction. After speaking with other transgenders, the idea that he could be a man in a woman’s body became real to him. Wixson said the diagnosis confirmed who he is and he now has the support of his family and has not been treated badly by his fellow marines.
Because he knew that the policy change was on the horizon, he came out as transgender to his command. With the help of his command, he is transitioning and is also now recognized as a man. He will obtain health care and gender reassignment treatment ans surgery through the military, and once his treatment plan is completed, his gender and name will be changed in the Department of Defense database.
The White House announced the repeal of the ban in June. Prior to that, a report was generated that disclosed allowing trans people would have “minimal impact” on the effectiveness of troops and healthcare costs. Carter stated that the number of transgender individuals in the military are few, and many are talented and serve the U.S. well.
The new policy is one of inclusiveness and is a major change from the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” one that protected LGBT personnel from harassment but didn’t allow them to disclose their orientation while serving, added the Independent.
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Army Staff Sgt. Patricia King, a transgender female, served in the military for 10 years but could not do so openly. Her command was behind her but did not have the authority to allow her to serve as a woman. King’s solution was to dress as a male at work but socially as a female. She offered insight stating, “culture takes longer to change than policy.”
With Wixson’s positive experience as the first transgender marine, he and others welcome the DOD’s efforts. The Pentagon has said it is a work in progress.
[Featured Image by Robert Nickelsberg/Getty Images]