While civilian defense employees can change their gender and keep their jobs, military personnel cannot. Tom Vanden Brook tells the story of one Army sergeant who decided to transition from female to male after returning from Iraq in 2011:

As a reservist, the sergeant has a civilian job and goes to work dressed as a man. For Army drills on weekends, the woman must emerge. “It’s kind of a double life,” the sergeant says. “In my civilian life everyone just knows he, just him. I go in with my facial hair, and I’m just a guy. When I put the uniform on, I shave. The feminine voice comes out if I can. Whatever I can muster that’s feminine. That’s when the sergeant who’s supposed to be female comes out.”

The sergeant says FTM servicemembers rely on each other for support:

“Female to male, we have a band of brothers,” the sergeant says. “There’s at least 300 of us connected. We talk quite often to each other. We serve as battle buddies in a battle that nobody knows we’re fighting.”

(Video: A news segment on Kristin Beck, the former Navy SEAL formerly known as Chris Beck. Previous Dish on Beck here.)