Transgender in the military: A Pentagon in transition weighs its policy


The Washington Post
By Juliet Eilperin
April 9, 2015

Over the past decade, Sgt. Shane Ortega has served three combat tours: Two in Iraq, one in Afghanistan. Two as a Marine and one in the Army. Two as a woman and one as a man.

Ortega is a helicopter crew chief in the Army’s 25th Infantry Division in Hawaii. He was born female and would like to serve the rest of his career as a man. That would require a significant change in Pentagon rules, which require that transgender troops be discharged from military service, usually on medical grounds.

Last summer, medical tests showed Ortega had elevated testosterone levels due to the hormones he was taking to support his transition to being a man. As a result, he was barred from flight duties. He still faces the risk of being separated from the Army, but the intervention of an outside legal advocacy group has held that off, at least temporarily. He remains a woman in the eyes of the military, a status with emotional and practical costs.

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