(directors: Fiona Dawson/Gabe Silverman; screenwriters James Coughlin/Gabe Silverman; cinematographer: Gabe Silverman; editor: Gil Seltzer; music: Mark Degli Antoni; cast: Staff Sergeant Logan Ireland, Laila, Captain Jennifer Peace, Captain El Cook; Runtime: 92; MPAA Rating: NR; producers: Jamie Coughlin, Gabriel Silverman, Fiona Dawson; Free Lion Production; 2018)

A necessary sane and revealing documentary on a controversial topical story concerning transgenders in the military.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

A necessary sane and revealing documentary on a controversial topical story concerning transgenders in the military. First time feature documentarian co-directors Gabe Silverman and Fiona Dawson focus on LGBT regulations in the military, as they chronicle the story of 4 outstanding troops–Staff Sgt. Airman Logan Ireland, Corporal Laila Villanueva, Captain Jennifer Peace & First Lieutenant El Cook– with gender issues, who are fighting the military’s bias. But by bravely coming out as transgenders, they risk ending their careers.It won the 2018 SXSW Audience Award-winning feature film.The country in 2011 repealed its controversial “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy, which banned gay, lesbian, and bisexual service members from serving openly in the military. But the repeal didn’t include the 15,500 transgender people estimated to be serving in the military today. In 2016 the ban was lifted, but with the bigoted and unstable President Trump in office in 2017, the ban is reinstated. A court order however overrules Trump’s pledge, but the filmmakers point out that the transgender community still faces discrimination and uncertainty in the military. Staff Sergeant Logan Ireland, born a woman now a man, served with honor in Afghanistan’s Kandahar province.

He is married to Laila, a transwoman, born a boy now a woman, serving in the Army in Hawaii. When forced to be a man, she resigns after 12 years of excellent service. Captain Jennifer Peace grew up as a boy but is now a girl. As a member of SPARTA she is lobbying Washington for the civil rights of trans in the service. Captain El Cook, a black trans man from Houston is fully accepted by his peers, but has a ponytail in case he is ordered to be a woman. The film clearly shows that the transgenders do a good job in the military and the troops have no objections to their presence. The problem seems political, as certain right-wing politicians play the bias card against them but offer no legitimate reasons to remove them from the service.