In the year 2000, Corporal Maria Luiza da Silva was kicked out of the Brazilian Air Force, two years after telling her superior officers that she was a transgender woman. Across her 22-year military career — where she enlisted with her birth name, José Carlos — Ms. Da Silva excelled as an aviation mechanic, for which she won a series of medals and the respect of her male colleagues.
That all changed in 1998 when she came out as transgender. A medical report from the Air Force deemed Maria Luiza to be “definitively incapable of serving in the military” and her salary was cut in half. She would soon be discharged, receiving an incomplete military pension.