Edward Long was a career Army National Guardsman, a fiery sergeant major who guarded suspected terrorists in overseas prisons and guided young soldiers through brutal 12-hour days in some of the most dangerous places on Earth.
A model commander, rock-steady, fearless, driven by a spirit of duty."A very serious, strict, gung-ho first sergeant," said one of his former colleagues. But Edward -- married and the seeming personification of the Army's hyper-masculine culture -- harbored a secret.
A few times, shopping with his wife, he would glance at women's clothing and imagine how the fabrics would feel on his skin. After struggling mightily to tamp down those confusing impulses, he eventually acknowledged, to himself, that he'd had them all his life, dating from his childhood in Jersey City.
As his hand met the doorknob, he knew there would be no turning back.
Jennifer Long was about to make her entrance into the world."It was easier to jump out of an airplane," she said in an expansive interview earlier this year.
He also discovered that many others shared those feelings. "I realized that I wasn't broken."And he decided to find out, at last, what it would be like to release his female self.
The most terrifying moment in Edward Long's life -- a life that had already included time guarding prisoners in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, and would later include tours of duty in Iraq and Afghanistan -- came when he walked to the front door of his Kearny apartment in a black skirt, a white-and-black print blouse and a shoulder-length brunette wig.
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