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Landon Wilson, 25 ans : Viré de l'armée parce que transgenre !

Landon Wilson, 25 ans : Viré de l'armée parce que transgenre !

>> Transgender people push for acceptance in military -- and beyond

Les personnes transgenres ne sont toujours pas autorisées à servir dans l'armée américaine. Quand son identité a été découverte, Landon Wilson a été débarqué.

A 25 ans, le jeune homme est déjà un vétéran de la marine américaine. Il y a deux ans, il est convoqué par son commandant. "J’ai besoin de savoir exactement ce que tu es ?", lui lance son supérieur. Le soldat est transgenre : une fois la "vérité" connue, il est poussé vers la sortie, alors qu’il espérait une promotion.

La seule préoccupation de Landon, alors âgé de 23 ans, est de savoir comment ses camarades vont se débrouiller en son absence en Afghanistan. "Quand tu es dans ce genre d’endroit, tu ne peux pas te permettre de perdre quelqu’un", raconte-t-il, interrogé par CBS News.

L'Afghanistan, la meilleure expérience de sa carrière

Né femme, Landon déclare se considérer comme un homme depuis qu’il a 3 ou 4 ans. Il se souvient du jour où il a annoncé à sa mère que "les trucs de filles" ne l’intéressaient pas. Pour lui, "le genre est complètement indépendant du sexe [biologique]". Enrôlé comme femme, il commence à prendre des hormones pour changer de genre. Il prend alors l’apparence d’un homme. A l’armée, il occupe les quartiers masculins.
[L’Afghanistan] a été la meilleure expérience de ma carrière militaire. Ça a été probablement, le seul moment où j’ai su que je pouvais me concentrer à 100% sur mon travail, sans me soucier que mon genre rentre en compte", raconte le jeune homme.

Le cas de Landon Wilson n’est pas unique. Depuis 2011, l’armée américaine autorise dans ses rangs les gays, lesbienne et bisexuels. Une décision qui suit l’abrogation du "don’t ask, don’t tell" ("Ne demandez pas, n’en parlez pas"). Cette abrogation ne concerne pas les transgenres. De ce fait, ils sont obligés de garder le secret sur leur genre s’ils veulent rester dans l’armée.

Voir la vidéo ici, si le lecteur ne fonctionne pas :

Douze pays autorisent les soldats transgenres

Cette mise à l’écart des transgenres se base sur des analyses qui les considéraient autrefois comme des personnes souffrant de troubles mentaux. Aujourd’hui, une partie des médecins estime que les traitements peuvent aider les personnes souffrant de dysphorie de genre (perturbation de l’humeur) ou de détresse liée au genre qui leur a été attribué à la naissance.

En réalité, peu de pays autorisent des militaires transgenres. Seuls douze les laissent servir dans l’armée : l'Australie, la Belgique, le Canada, la République tchèque, le Danemark, l'Israël, les Pays-Bas, la Nouvelle Zélande, la Norvège, l'Espagne, la Suède et le Royaume-Uni, selon Palm Center, une association LGBT américaine. La France ne fait pas partie de la liste. Avec son témoignage, Landon Wilson espère pouvoir faire changer les choses.

Margaret Oheneba

>> In 2011, the repeal of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" allowed gays, lesbians and bisexuals in the military to serve openly. But the ban on service by transgender people continues, because it is based on military medical regulations put in place before the American Psychiatric Association declared, in 2013, that being transgender is not in itself a mental disorder.

Last July, President Obama signed an executive order "prohibiting federal contractors from discriminating on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity." But that does not apply to the military.

"It was a Command Sergeant Major in Afghanistan who pulled me to his office and he said, 'I need to know exactly what you are,'" recalled Landon Wilson.

What Wilson was, was transgender. In his case, born biologically a female but living as a male. His commanding officer uncovered his secret at the end of 2013 while reviewing then 23-year-old Wilson for a promotion. He was forced to leave the military with an honorable discharge. He says he was worried about his buddies and the mission.

"My main concern was who was gonna take my spot?" Wilson said. "When you're in a place like that, you can't really afford to lose anybody."

Wilson had enlisted as a female then decided to transition. That meant beginning to live and express himself as the gender he identified with. He took male hormones and by the time he was deployed to a new unit with military intelligence in Afghanistan, he looked and sounded masculine and was placed in a male barracks.

"It was the best experience of my entire military career," said Wilson. "It was probably the only time that I knew 100 percent that I could focus on my job without worrying about my gender coming into play."

Mara Keisling, who transitioned 15 years ago, is the executive director of the National Center for Transgender Equality. She says a transgender person is somebody who knows early on, often from their first conscious moment, that their given gender isn't right.

"Transgender people are people whose gender identity, that is their internal sense of their gender just doesn't line up with what the doctor told our parents when we were born a boy or a girl," said Keisling.

From the age of 3 or 4, Wilson felt his gender was male.

"I remember announcing proudly to my mom that this whole girl thing just wasn't cut out for me," said Wilson. "And I recognized then that the reaction I got wasn't probably the best."

Wilson says the overall message he got was that "this is how things are and this is how they're going to be." A 2011 survey by the National Center for Transgender Equality found 41 percent of transgender people had attempted suicide. The decision to transition can bring a sense of peace.

"There's a relief in saying, 'you know what? This is who I am,'" said Keisling. "There's a relief in saying, 'this is what i'm going to do.'"

Transitioning may or may not involve hormones or surgery. Wilson says, in his view, the procedure is irrelevant because it doesn't change who you are as a person.

"How we see ourselves and how we present ourselves to the world is much more important than the underlying layers of what's under or clothes or what could be under our clothes," said Wilson. "Gender is completely independent of your sex."

It is difficult for people to understand that a person's biological sex can be different than his gender. Ignorance about that has led to discrimination for transgender people in all walks of life, not just the military. As for Wilson, he says that if he could re-enlist, he would do it in a heartbeat.