A transgender marine is set to become one of the first people recognized as a man following the lifted ban on transgender people serving in the military.
Lance Corporal Aaron Wixson enlisted in the Marines in 2014, when he was still identifying as a female. He soon began transitioning, and was able to register as a man in the military database thanks to a policy that came into effect in October, reports Daily Mail.
“Transgender Americans may serve openly, and they can no longer be discharged or otherwise separated from the military just for being transgender,” Defense Secretary Ash Carter said of the policy at the time.
“Although relatively few in number, we're talking about talented and trained Americans who are serving their country with honor and distinction. We want to take the opportunity to retain people whose talent we've invested in and who've proven themselves.”
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Wixson was born Arielle and came out as a lesbian in high school.
"It calmed my brain from the feeling of being different,” he said. “"I was OK with that. I was OK with liking girls."
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He added that he knew he wanted to join the Marines when recruiters visited his high school when he was in 11th grade.
“I knew that's what I wanted to do,” he told CNN. "I saw the pride that they had, and I thought, 'I want to be a part of that.'"
Wixson said he’s happy with the way it has all turned out.
“I'm really grateful to be able to serve openly in the Marine Corps as transgender,” he said. “When you get to be yourself you're a much more effective member of the team.”
He said he has not experienced any backlash from the military as a result of the transition, but admitted his colleagues are “very curious” and have a lot of questions. The biggest hurdle for those who know him, he told CNN, has been getting used to the pronoun change.