“Transmilitary” (2018), directed by Gabriel Silverman and Fiona Dawson, written with Jamie Couglin, is the feature-length expansion of the 2015 short film “Transgender, in War and in Love” (see index). The film can be rented “legally” from YouTube HD for $4.99 now, or comparably on iTunes. I didn’t find it on Amazon yet. Reel Affirmations plans a screening in Washington DC in May 2019. It appeared at SXSW in 2018.
Hosted by Jesse Ehrenfled, it follows him and four other persons (Senior Airman Logan Ireland, Corporal Laila Villaneuva, Captain Jennifer Peace and 1 Lieutenant El Cook) as the Obama administration gradually opens the military to transgender people, and then Trump, after election, suddenly (after the covert influence of Mike Pence) tweets that he will ban transgenders from the military, leading to today’s court fight (correlated post).
The “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” Policy (documented in 2011 by HBO’s “The Strange History of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”, (see index for url) had applied to cis gay men and women, who had been able to serve covertly in practice, subject to the witch-hunts that Servicemembers’ Legal Defense Network fought for so many years, documented all the way back in 1994 by Randy Shilts’s book “Conduct Unbecoming”, and the many other personal account books to follow (like Joseph Steffan’s “Honor Bound”).
The new film includes some striking footage in Afghanistan. Ehrenfeld “looks” male, with forearm hair despite the tattoos (which seem a bit disfiguring aesthetically to me). Transgender persons who have completed transition seem able to live in quarters in their desired (reassigned) gender. But much more common is persons entering and serving under their biological gender at birth. Current rules, even after SCOTUS and one remaining injunction, would probably let them serve if they do not press the issue of dysphoria and attempt treatment while in the service.
There are also some interesting scenes of the Pentagon in winter, as several servicemembers ride around Arlington VA in a snowstorm to a meeting.
See also coordinated post about meeting at DC Center for the LGBT Community, on news commentary blog Jan. 29.
Director, writer: Gabe Silverman, Fiona Dawson
When and how viewed: YouTube rental, 2019/1/30
Companies: Logo, Gravitas Venturas