TransMilitary is the most important documentary that anyone will view during the 2018 calendar year.
In a perfect world, there would not be any controversy with regards to transgender people serving in the United States Military. Being transgender isn’t something that should take away from someone having the ability to serve in combat. The road to lifting the transgender military ban was a long one. It’s one in which SPARTA, the LGBTQ Military Organization, played a huge role in getting meetings with the right people. All it took was a question during a town-hall meeting in Kandahar, Afghanistan when then-Defense Secretary Ash Carter was visiting. Navy Lt. Cmdr. Jesse M. Ehrenfeld, a doctor, asked Carter his thoughts on transgender soldiers serving in an “austere environment.”
This question by Ehrenfeld is what ultimately led to the ban on transgender members serving openly getting lifted in 2016 and as such, 15,500 service members were finally allowed to serve openly in the military without having to hide who they truly are.
Co-directors Gabriel Silverman and Fiona Dawson couldn’t have chosen a better project to make their feature film debut. TransMilitary is a follow up to the 2015 documentary short, Transgender, at War and in Love. In addition to the two subjects profiled in the documentary short, Staff Sergeant Logan Ireland and Corporal Laila Ireland (ret.), TransMilitary also follows the stories of Captain Jennifer Peace and Captain El Cook. Some of these people are based stateside while others have seen deployment. In coming out before the ban was lifted, service members would risk losing everything that they’ve worked their entire lives for.
The premiere of TransMilitary could not have come at a better time as President Donald Trump’s transgender military ban is facing legal battles. The film wouldn’t be complete if it didn’t touch on the military spending budget for transgender people compared to those who have erectile dysfunction. Think about it: the cost of hormones and everything for the transgender service members is roughly $8.4 million. It costs over $80 million to cover everyone who suffers from erectile dysfunction.
Transgender representation in the media is very important–it’s something that this transgender film critic knows all too well. Even though TransMilitary is a documentary and not a narrative feature, it is the importance of films such as these that can help to spread education and awareness when it comes to representation. Contrary to what some of these conservatives may think, our lives are not an experiment at all. We just want to live our lives as anyone else does.
DIRECTORS: Gabriel Silverman, Fiona Dawson
FEATURING: Staff Sergeant Logan Ireland, Corporal Laila Ireland (ret.), Captain Jennifer Peace, Captain El Cook
An official selection of the 2018 SXSW Film Festival, TransMilitary held it’s world premiere on March 10, 2018.