(New York Times) -- SYDNEY, Australia — IT was 2 a.m., just a few days before Christmas, in a remote part of Afghanistan. Eight hours into a 16-hour shift, Ryan, a 23-year-old American naval sailor, was standing tense and alert, watching the footage of soldiers undertaking a nearby mission on a screen in front of him.
Suddenly, a hand clapped onto his back. Wheeling around to look at the face of his senior officer, Ryan knew the moment he had feared had come: His superiors had found out that his enlisted paperwork described him as female. Within three hours, he was on a plane.
Ryan, who is now stationed on a base in the United States awaiting a potential discharge, recently described that day to me. Ryan is the name his mother would have given him if he had been identified as male at birth. He does not want to reveal his real name because his case is being processed by the military.
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