Speaker Pelosi Calls Ban on Transgender Troops “An Act of Cruelty” at TransMilitary Screening Event Hosted by GLAAD, Logo, and The Pritzker Military Museum & Library

In partnership with Logo and The Pritzker Military Museum & Library, GLAAD hosted a panel discussion and screening of the documentary TransMilitary on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C yesterday evening. TransMilitary is a film that follows the stories of four transgender service members as they fight for their right to serve their country. Among the more than a hundred invited guests who attended the screening were Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Congressman Joe Kennedy, who both gave remarks during the panel discussion on transgender military service. The panel featured trans service members Captain Jennifer Peace & Captain El Cook, Lieutenant Colonel Mark Rasmussen, and was moderated by Amna Nawaz of PBS NewsHour.

In her remarks, Speaker Pelosi called the ban on transgender troops in the military “an act of cruelty.” As ally and supporter of the LGBTQ community, Pelosi spoke about the work that still needs to be done for transgender acceptance in the military and beyond: “To them it’s inconceivable, to us it is inevitable. So we have to shorten the distance between the inconceivable to some and the inevitable to us.” Pelosi thanked Captain Jennifer Peace, one of the service members featured in the film, for telling her story and for “shortening the distance."

Congressman Joe Kennedy praised Gabe Silverman and Fiona Dawson, the director and co-director of the TransMilitary, for their “ability to tell the story and focus on those who are serving, on those who have stepped forward, on those who ask for nothing other than a chance to make a sacrifice to our nation.” Kennedy continued, “A nation should be nothing but grateful for their willingness to serve."

Panel members First Lieutenant El Cook and Captain Jennifer Peace both spoke to the shortcomings and discrimination of the ban. El Cook argued that “[when] you have to work and serve with soldiers every day, but you can’t be yourself [and] you can’t talk about you are, that’s a big deal.” El Cook continued, “That’s essentially saying...I can’t maintain my integrity,” which he notes is a “cornerstone of leadership in the army."

In her statements, Peace spoke the importance of sharing the stories of trans individuals: “It is too important because silence for the trans community is death. And it is selfish to say ‘You go fight this, I’m going to wait here until it’s comfortable.'” Peace continued, “That’s never been my attitude as a soldier and it’s certainly not going to be any different with this."

Retired transgender U.S. Army Lieutenant Colonel Jennifer N. Pritzker also shared a message via video, emphasizing how it is “critical that we stand together, in spite of party lines, to support our transgender service members, as they have stood for us.”

During the event, GLAAD Chief Programs Officer, Zeke Stokes, surprised Gabe Silverman, Fiona Dawson, and Jamie Coughlin (TransMilitary director, co-director, and producer - respectively) with a GLAAD Media Award. TransMilitary was named a recipient of a Special Recognition honor when the nominees for the 30th Annual GLAAD Media Awards were announced earlier this year. The GLAAD Media Awards honor outstanding LGBTQ representations of LGBTQ people and issues.

TransMilitary, which received its world television premiere on Logo in November, is a groundbreaking documentary that won the Audience Award at South By Southwest in 2018 and has racked up a slew of awards and accolades from critics and audiences alike, including a nomination for the coveted Humanitas Prize. The film chronicles the lives of four individuals (Senior Airman Logan Ireland, Corporal Laila Villanueva, Captain Jennifer Peace and Captain El Cook) defending their country’s freedom while fighting for their own. They put their careers and their families’ livelihoods on the line by coming out as transgender to top brass officials in the Pentagon in hopes of attaining the equal right to serve. The film is now available on iTunes, Amazon, and other streaming services.

"TransMilitary tells the story of transgender service members fighting for our country, while unfortunately, they fight for their careers in the midst of a proposed ban on their service by the President. It's critical that policy makers and military leaders hear their stories and understand that they just want to serve this country alongside other brave patriots without discrimination. Their stories - and their service and sacrifice - are undeniable" said Zeke Stokes, Chief Programs Officer at GLAAD. 

The evening’s panel was live-streamed on Logo’s social media platforms and is available at the following link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lTmiLk9S6Hw.