Former lesbian now transgender man exposes the military’s attitude and pressure to hide his identity.
“It was very difficult,” Young said of the experience. “I felt pressured to try to hide who I was, yet, I still needed to change my gender.”
Hiding his identity
Evan Young, had believed he was a lesbian for the majority of his life. The officer had enlisted in the army 20 years ago and it wasn’t until 2011 that he realized he was actually transgender.
At the time Young was a public affairs officer for the US Army. He expressed that he was pressured to hide who was to the military and fellow officers. At the time, the military hadn’t removed the transgender ban, that prevented them to serve openly in the US armed forces.
By 2012, Young had begun transitioning and taking hormone treatment. In order to hide it from military, Young underwent a Hysterectomy for “reasons other than gender transition.” But the hormone, testosterone, had begun to create noticeable changes in the officer. His appearance and voice were becoming more obviously masculine.
“At first, I thought I had a cold, but [my voice] just continued to kind of crack and get worse,” Young said.
Young went on to express that rarely spoke and became a “recluse”. He was very careful about venturing out of his office, especially after new cadets called him “sir”. Older officers were beginning to notice the changes and became suspicious.
“My commanding officer there had suspicions and I was under investigation for being transgender, and they didn’t have anything on me to prove that I was, so I felt that it was kind of like a witch hunt,” said Young. “They were out to get me.”
“I’d been through that in the military before, back in the nineties, as a lesbian.” Claimed Young.
Due to the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” ban on gay and lesbian officers back in 1994, Young was under investigation. The army wanted him to list out all the “gay and lesbian friends that I had.” At the time, they didn’t have any proof of him being a lesbian so they dropped the investigation.
Young considered himself “lucky to retire medically and get out of there.” He expressed, “They didn’t have anything on me then and they didn’t have anything on me this time,” so they couldn’t hold anything on him.
Young said that he wanted to stay in the army for as long as possible, but his identity was calling and he wanted to transition.
Young managed to get medically discharged in 2013, “So, I knew I had some medical conditions that I could probably get out on and I pushed on those things,”
The officer wasn’t free though, Young had to face the Army in court to fight to get his adjusted discharge papers. Without the papers, he couldn’t apply for jobs with his new name.
A new future
Three years before the ban was removed on transgenders being able to openly serve in the US military, the army court allowed three transgender veterans, including Young, to modify their paperwork.
In hopes he could help other transgender vets, In 2013, Young joined and became a member of the Transgender American Veterans Association (TAVA). A non-profit organization, TAVA assists trans veterans with receiving benefits and care like any regular vet should get. Young has now become president of the organization.