Imagine spending 12 years of your life in war torn countries, protecting the rights of a society that actively questions or denies your fundamental right to live openly.
This is the reality of Laila Ireland and the estimated 15,500 trans people serving in the United States military. A retired combat medic for the Army, Laila comes from a family of service people that spans generations and knew at an early age that she wanted to continue this tradition.
However, Laila knew at an early age that she didn't fit into conventional notions of gender, and as a result struggled with defining her identity and the surrounding stigma. It is this experience that has contributed to Laila’s work in creating safe environments for LGBTQ employees and advocating for the rights of trans service members through the organization SPART*A.
Laila is also one of the subjects of the Human Right Film Festival's opening night film TransMilitary, along with three other service members (including her husband Senior Airman Logan Ireland). The film shows the struggles they face to end the ban against open service at the end of the Obama administration, only to face efforts to be reinstated in the current one.
Laila joins hosts Gilad Cohen and Simona Ramkisson to discuss her experience filming TransMilitary, why trans service members feel more comfortable in war zones than at home, and literally the greatest engagement story ever.
Hosted by Gilad Cohen (Founder, JAYU) and Simona Ramkisson, produced and edited by Brandon Fragomeni and Alex Castellani. Associate Producer: Ron Ma.
Image: Laila Ireland, U.S. Army veteran and LGBTQ activist. Photo by Gilad Cohen
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