Serving while transgender

A new reality series looks at the reality faced by the transgender people who serve in the very military which officially bans them.

On Tuesday, the producers of  TransMilitary released a new preview video for the upcoming reality series which will compare the military’s treatment of transgender people in the U.S. and the U.K. I have mixed feelings, to say the least, about the military, especially the U.S. military, but, obviously oppose transphobia and codified discrimination.

Don’t Ask Don’t Tell was a law that banned Lesbian, Gay and Bisexual Americans from openly serving in the armed forces. When DADT was repealed, the ban on LGB people was lifted. Neither the ban nor its appeal dealt with gender identity and so transgender people must serve in silence and can be fired if they are suspected of being transgender.
In England, however, transgender people have been openly serving since 1999.
You can support the project on its Indiegogo page and by liking it on Facebook.

In order of appearance: FD: Fiona Dawson; AR: Allyson Robinson; JG: Jacqui Gavin

FD: Allyson, what is the situation like today for trans people in the military?

AR:Well, it’s actually even worse than don’t ask, don’t tell. Transgender people today are not only barred from service, but, uh, they can be asked and then get kicked out.

FD: Since 1999, in the United Kingdom, trans people have been able to serve openly.  Why is the US so far behind in this?

AR: Well that’s a great question.

title sequence: london

card: TransMilitary

Fiona Driving VO: We are moving forward with our reality series TransMilitary.  As well as funding, we need to know people in the UK who can answer our questions, and introduce us to transgender personnel in the armed forces.

So I   to the UK and met with many people, including transgender activist Jacqui Gavin…

JG: I’m the chair of a civil service network here in the UK.  It’s an organization called a:gender.

FD: Jacqui, how come transgender people have been able to serve openly in the UK armed services since 1999?

JG: It was mainly due to a change in the legislation with the Sex Discrimination Act, gender reassignment regulations coming into force. That’s what prompted the change.

FD: Because in the US, Don’t Ask Don’t Tell was repealed in 2011.

JG: And?

FD: And yet, today, transgender people are still banned by policy from serving openly. So what does it feel like for transgender people in the UK military?

JG: Feels like I would say, It’s a positive experience.  There are still issues, that, I don’t think there’s any doubt about it, but I would say it’s more positive.

FD: What do you think about this project?

JG: I am so so proud to be a part of this project.  And not just for me as an individual, but for the trans community as a whole.  It needs this sort of exposure.  [...] it’s about bringing not just the UK to the market, the US to the market, but it’s bringing the whole goal to the world, and bringing this whole subject attention as it deserves. It’s about the individual being able to be themselves, and that is so important.

AR: It could change the way Americans think about transgender people. Uh, and that is uh, that is not just changing law, that’s changing culture. They need to see transgender people who are serving. Uh, Seeing us, hearing our stories, uh, it- it changes the equation for many people.

Beginning of end sequence.

FD (VO):

We have global relationships with individuals and organizations to tell the most compelling stories…we will even fly with a transgender British Royal Air Force helicopter pilot.. but only when we have the funding to do so.

When you see the reality transgender people face you will be moved to tears by their fears, laugh out loud with their joy and feel chills from their courage.

Right now the stories we are hearing are top secret.  Including the US trans soldier who is going to come out to his command and wants us to film him doing so.  Who knows what will happen, but we know you want to watch because you care.

Please go to our Indigogo campaign and give five or more dollars, pounds or euros.  Whatever you can afford.  For too long transgender people have served in silence.  Now is the time to give trans people the largest, loudest, platform to advocate for their equality.



Born and raised on the mean streets of New York City’s Upper West Side, Katie Halper is a comic, writer, blogger, satirist and filmmaker based in New York. Katie graduated from The Dalton School (where she teaches history) and Wesleyan University (where she learned that labels are for jars.) A director of Living Liberally and co-founder/performer in Laughing Liberally, Katie has performed at Town Hall, Symphony Space, The Culture Project, D.C. Comedy Festival, all five Netroots Nations, and The Nation Magazine Cruise, where she made Howard Dean laugh! and has appeared with Lizz Winstead, Markos Moulitsas, The Yes Men, Cynthia Nixon and Jim Hightower. Her writing and videos have appeared in The New York Times, Comedy Central, The Nation Magazine, Gawker, Nerve, Jezebel, the Huffington Post, Alternet and Katie has been featured in/on NY Magazine, LA Times, In These Times, Gawker,Jezebel, MSNBC, Air America, GritTV, the Alan Colmes Show, Sirius radio (which hung up on her once) and the National Review, which called Katie “cute and some what brainy.” Katie co-produced Tim Robbins’s film Embedded, (Venice Film Festival, Sundance Channel); Estela Bravo’s Free to Fly (Havana Film Festival, LA Latino Film Festival); was outreach director for The Take, Naomi Klein/Avi Lewis documentary about Argentine workers (Toronto & Venice Film Festivals, Film Forum); co-directed New Yorkers Remember the Spanish Civil War, a video for Museum of the City of NY exhibit, and wrote/directed viral satiric videos including Jews/ Women/ Gays for McCain.

Katie is a writer, comedian, filmmaker, and New Yorker.

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