Israel for the first time ever will honor a transgender soldier with special medal of honor during the country's annual Independence Day state ceremony, it was revealed Tuesday.
Sergeant Noam Shahar from Home Front Command’s mixed gender rescue unit will receive the President's Medal during the country’s 74th Independence Day celebrations on Wednesday.
The 20 year-old soldier was chosen to be one of the 120 soldiers to receive the medal for “outstanding contribution to the State of Israel or to humanity”.
"I am very excited. My unit commander called me to his office, said I was unanimously selected as my platoon’s most outstanding soldier," said Shahar, adding she was then voted as the most outstanding soldier in her battalion.
"Finally they decided I will receive the President’s Medal. I was, and still am, in shock.”
Shahar will receive the award for excellence in fulfilling her role, going above and beyond her duties and setting a personal example for her fellow soldiers.
The soldier said she dedicated herself to setting an example even before joining Home Front Command. Last year, she chose to do her beret march- an arduous journey each IDF soldier goes through before being accepted to their respective corps - with the pride flag on her vest.
"Before I enlisted, it was clear to me that I would enlist in one of the combat units. I searched the Internet for information on transgender men and women and found nothing. I felt I had to prove it was possible," she said. "It was important to me to show our presence, that we are here," she added.
Shahar adds that while she was apprehensive at first, enlisting as a combat soldier was a dream she would not have given up on. “At first I was afraid of what they would say and how they would react, but I soon realized that most of the fears were in my head.”
"There are soldiers in the company with me who have never met a gay or a lesbian, and today one of them is my best friend."
To the Independence Day celebrations, Shahar will be accompanied by her parents.
"We salute her, she's amazing," said Shahar’s mother, Hedva. "I do not know how to contain all this excitement… Noam brings us a lot of pride, she loves what she’s doing, so I am happy. There is no one more worthy than her."