Monday, 8 June 2015

Transgender at War and in Love

This Op-Doc video profiles a transgender airman named Logan Ireland, who recently completed a deployment serving as male, the gender he knows himself to be. Remarkably, after telling his leaders and some peers that his sex was assigned female at birth, he received their support—despite military policy that prevents transgender people from serving openly. Meanwhile, his fiancĂ©e, Laila Villanueva, who was assigned male at birth, has a similar scenario, but works without the support of her command.

Their dreams of serving in the military until retirement, having a home, and creating a family are all on the line simply because of how society and United States military policy discriminate against transgender people. Logan and Laila are aware that by coming out publicly in this film, they could be discharged.

The ban on transgender people in the military is not a law: It is based on outdated medical regulations that consider transgender people to be psychologically impaired. If the military updated its policies to reflect current research standards, transgender people would not be considered unfit.
Back in 2010, I advocated for the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” the law that banned lesbian, gay and bisexual people from serving in the United States military. But when I realized that it did not include transgender people, I was outraged. We had succeeded, but the mission was incomplete.

All soldiers, sailors, airmen and marines risk their lives fighting for Americans’ right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Yet American transgender troops are not afforded the same freedoms they are so boldly protecting. The story of Logan and Laila is not over yet. We’re hoping for a happy ending.

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