Israeli Army Aims to Become More Welcoming for Transgender Recruits

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In this June 25, 2009 file photo, An Israeli soldier holds a rainbow flag as he and others march in a gay pride parade in Jerusalem.

The Israel Defense Forces has decided to institute a new approach to dealing with transgender recruits by offering them extra support from the time they get their first draft notice at age 16 through their army service.

The new policy intends to make army service easier for transgender soldiers, regardless of whether they intend to undergo gender reassignment surgery, according to a report in Yedioth Ahronoth, which cites the army's Bamahane magazine.

According to the report published Thursday, transgender soldiers have had to ask for assistance from commanding officers in order to get uniforms and housing for their preferred gender, as well as hormone treatments.

Maj. Iris Wagman, head of the mental health unit in the army's Medical Corps, said the army reached out to the Israeli Center for Human Sexuality and Gender Identity to help it become more familiar with the needs of transgender recruits.

Transgender recruits who have not begun the gender-reassignment process but would like to will be drafted according to their biological gender, according to Yedioth Ahronoth.

Immediately after their enlistment, they will get personal assistance from the army in transitioning and will be addressed using the pronoun of their choice.

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