Earlier this year, a 5-4 order from the Supreme Court was delieverd and created the runway for Trump’s trans military ban to potentially go into effect.
The new policy that was signed by the Pentagon last week and then immediately haulted could block trans people from enlisting, and with the exceptions of those already serving, force everyone to serve in accordance with the sex they were assigned at birth.
With the military being the largest transgender employer (according to the National Center for Transgender Equality there are about 15,000 trans folks serving today, and 134,000 trans veterans), it's apparent that the Trump administration is committed to driving trans people out of service and blocking them from one of the only places they are employed.
The documentary TransMilitary, now available on iTunes and other streaming platforms, chronicles the lives of four people (including Laila and Logan Ireland) defending the nation’s freedom while fighting for their own.
And now with her subject’s careers on the line because they’ve come out as trans to top Pentagon officials in hopes of combatting resistance to trans service, creator and co-director Fiona Dawson has words to share on how exactly we can all help.
Fiona Dawson: What is happening right now does feel like it’s an attempted eradication of trans people. It’s shocking and scary. However, I like to focus on the positive, proactive things people are doing to not only prevent an erasure of trans people, but to actually lift up and fully embrace trans people in our society.
For example, recently Congresswoman Mary Gay Scanlon (PA-05), Congressman Joseph P. Kennedy, III (MA-04), and Congresswoman Jackie Speier (CA-14) led a congressional letter signed by 160 of their colleagues to Acting Secretary of Defense Patrick Shanahan demanding that he not implement the ban on transgender troops.
The letter states, “The policy being defended by the administration at this time is a transgender ban, no matter what word games are used to get around it. It targets and stigmatizes a whole class of people without justification for reasons inextricably tied to their very identity.
The America I know and love believes that all people are equal, and through time we are chipping away at the discrimination that exists.
When we started the TransMilitary project back in 2012 we had no idea it would be so needed in 2019. The film is a tool that provides tangible and relatable stories to people who wouldn’t otherwise understand what it means to be transgender. And it’s the power of these stories that can change hearts and minds. Studies from GLAAD illustrate this fact.
Over the years with the increase of storytelling, LGB and T people are becoming more supported in society. When someone knows someone who is LGBTQ, they are more likely to champion their rights. And future demographic trends are working in our favor.
Currently, while only 9 percent of Americans over 45 say they personally know someone who is transgender, what warms my heart is that 27 percent of millennials say the same. This shows that over time acceptance of trans people is on the rise.
When those millennials have the power to vote, take office, lead corporations, etc. we will see the equal inclusion we envision.
For those who want to take action right now, our TransMilitary website lists these four things:
1. Watch TransMilitary and ask your friends and family to do the same by accessing the film here.
2. Express your support for @TransMilitary, #OpenTransService and #ProtectTransTroops on social media.
3. Make a donation to one or more of the organizations legally challenging the proposed new ban.
4. As there are no federal workplace protections for transgender Americans, contact your elected officials urging them to represent all of their constituents, including our troops.
When we combine data, advocacy and storytelling we can change the world. We must have faith, work to resolve conflict, and collaborate together.
Although it doesn’t feel it right now, the future is indeed bright.
Photo credits: Transmilitary director Fiona Dawson (left), director Gabriel Silverman, subject Laila Ireland and producer Jamie Coughlin (R) at the Frameline42 premiere. (Photo by Miikka Skaffari/Getty Images)