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The Department of Defense earlier this year lifted the ban on transgender people serving in the military

Aaron Wixson, 20-year-old field artillery radar operator, told his story to CNN

CNN  — 

Lance Cpl. Aaron Wixson is looking forward to the day he can attend the annual Marine Corps Ball in the outfit he feels most comfortable in.

Last Friday, he wore female Dress Blues to the gala at Pechanga Resort and Casino in Temecula, California. But next year, Wixson hopes to trade in the female uniform for the iconic Dress Blues worn by men – the gender he identifies with even though it’s not the one on his birth certificate.

“I will feel that I am finally seen as who I really am,” Wixson told CNN, going public for the first time with his gender transition, which is ongoing. “I will be 100 times more comfortable, physically and mentally – which will allow me to really enjoy the ball.”

He’s getting closer to his goal thanks to the new military policy that allows transgender people to serve openly. The 20-year-old field artillery radar operator is one of the first transgender Marines to be formally recognized by his command as a man.

The Tulsa, Oklahoma, native is utilizing the military’s recently adopted “gender transition process,” which took effect October 1. The policy, put in place after the Pentagon lifted the ban a few months earlier on transgender people serving, sets guidelines for troops who are transitioning to access healthcare. After Wixson completes his treatment plan, his name and gender will change in the Department of Defense database, and he can start dressing like a man and using male facilities.

The policy is part of the Pentagon’s latest effort to make the military more inclusive, which top military leaders acknowledge is a work in progress. LGBT advocates applauded the military for taking the step but are waiting to see how the policy is fully implemented.

Wixson’s command at the 11th Marine Regiment Headquarters at Camp Pendleton, California, helped arrange his interview with CNN to show its support for him and his transition.