By Sunnivie Brydum
Originally published on Advocate.com August 22 2013 6:01 PM ET
A new documentary Web series seeks to shed light on the U.S. military's ban on openly transgender Americans serving in its ranks, by documenting the lives of several armed forces members who are serving in silence.
Hosted by producer Fiona Dawson, TransMilitary is a six-part new media series, documenting the real-life stories of transgender soldiers, who are prohibited by military regulation from serving their country in their authentic gender.
Ultimately, the project will also create an estimated hour-long documentary about the challenge of serving "stealth" in the U.S. armed forces, in constrast to the U.K., a close American ally that has permitted trans people to serve openly in the military since 1999.
U.S. Military Code considers gender dysphoria, or any gender-affirming clinical or surgical treatment, to be a mental illness that disqualifies a member for service.
The first installment of the documentary series, teased in the video below, features Bryce Celotto, a military police officer who is transgender — and thus risking his military career by openly acknowledging his identity.
Allyson Robinson, the decorated Army veteran who briefly served as the executive director of LGBT service advocacy group OutServe-Servicemembers Legal Defense Network, has also signed on to the project as its lead consultant, along with OutServe's former director of communications, Zeke Stokes, who is an associate producer on the film and director of outreach at Media Matters.
At OutServe-SLDN, Robinson and Stokes were among those leading the charge to dismantle the ban, which was not affected when "don't ask, don't tell" was repealed in 2011. Robinson and Stokes both left OutServe-SLDN in June amid a public breakdown and controversy over the group's finances and leadership.
Robinson, a 1994 West Point graduate and transgender veteran who served multiple tours overseas, believes that sharing the stories of trans service members will help move the cultural conversation forward.
"Seeing us, hearing our stories; it changes the equation for many people," she says in the trailer.
Watch the trailer below. TransMilitary will be available free on digital platforms both locally and internationally.
TransMilitary from Tyrus Emory on Vimeo.