Transgender woman 'comes out' for MKs

It was her first time in the Knesset and Nan was about to "come out" and reveal her life as a transgender woman to a room full of MKs. Dressed in a gray pants suit, her long wavy hair fanned across her back, no one seemed to suspect that for most of her life Nan lived as a man. "I didn't know what to expect from them," she said, after her meeting last week with Shinui MKs Ariela Golan, Eliezer Sandburg, Ilan Leibowitz, Reshef Chen, Ilan Shalgi, and Colette Avital (Labor). "But they asked good questions, questions that seemed like they were really trying to understand, and to help." Finding a way to help was the root of the session, convened as a Shinui faction meeting by Ariela Golan. Last month, the Central Bureau of Statistics released a report examining teen suicides. Nearly one-third of suicides, the report concluded, were committed by youths facing doubts over their sexual orientation. "This is a problem in our society that has not been adequately addressed," said Golan. "We wanted to hear, from someone who has gone through this, what kind of challenges they faced." During the session the MKs discussed the efforts being made by the Ministry of Education and various interest groups to educate youths about the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender community. "We need to find a way to fix what the educational system can't fix," said Shalgi. "We need to find a way to make it better for these teens." Hearing the story of Nan, he added, was the highlight of the meeting and the key to determining what must be done. Six years ago Nan served in an army intelligence unit, functioning, she said, as a normal Israeli male soldier. "I thought that I would take my secret to the grave," she said. Today, she works at a hi-tech company and has come out to her family, friends and coworkers. "I live a healthy life," said Nan. "I have a job, relationships and friends. I want people to see that you can live a happy, normal life with any sexual orientation you choose." The 27-year-old chose not to use her real name, not out of shame about her lifestyle, but out of respect for her mother, who, Nan said, does not feel comfortable publicizing her daughter's sexual orientation. "It is not easy when your son becomes a daughter," said Nan. "But everyone has been incredibly supportive, much more than I could have possibly imagined." Nan said that her coming out as a woman happened accidentally, when a close friend guessed her secret and encouraged her to begin living life as a woman. She began to slowly open up to her family and friends, and now takes hormones to assist her physical transformation toward having a woman's body.