A transgender sailor who was honorably
discharged from the Navy because of his gender identity is publicly
speaking out for the first time.
In a story published Sunday in The
Washington Post, Landon Wilson said he was given the option of
keeping his Navy career or transitioning.
Wilson is described in the piece as a
“rising star” in a highly technical field that involves
intercepting and analyzing communications from foreign governments
and extremists. Wilson estimates the Navy spent at least $500,000
training him for the job.
While serving in Afghanistan, Wilson,
who began his transition while in the Navy, was confronted by his
superior with questions about his gender.
“He presented me an official Navy
record, and then a document from Afghanistan, and asked me to explain
the discrepancy,” Wilson,
24, told the paper. “He looked at me and he said, 'So, what
are you?' I remember there being a really awkward pause. And I'm
not going to lie to the sergeant major. So, when I finally answered
him, I looked him dead in the face and told him, 'I'm a male.'”
Despite repeal of “Don't Ask, Don't
Tell” more than two years ago, transgender soldiers are not allowed
to serve openly in the U.S. military.
Wilson, who was born female but who has
long identified as male, began to transition in 2012 while serving in
Hawaii: “I knew everything that was on the table, but at the same
time it was completely worth it. It was like taking my first
After acknowledging that he was
transgender, the Navy sent Wilson back to Hawaii, where he was
informed that he could transition or serve. Wilson decided to take
an honorable discharge.
“The military gave me the backbone to
transition, to be who I am, because they look so fondly on honor and
courage and all those things you have to have to be fully authentic,”
he said. “I don't think I would have gotten to where I am today