Photo credit:  Rhys Harpe r

Photo credit: Rhys Harper


Since October 2012, the TransMilitary project has existed to create visual media for transgender service members and veterans to be seen and heard. We envision a day when the United States military no longer discriminates against transgender people from serving the country they love. We believe when people relate to the personal experience of transgender soldiers, sailors, airmen and marines, they will come to appreciate transgender individuals in society too. 


Filmmakers Fiona Dawson and Gabriel Silverman & Jamie Coughlin of SideXSide Studios are currently in post-production on the feature documentary, TransMilitary. If finishing funds are raised, the film will release fall 2017.


Four transgender troops fight to change discriminatory policies banning their service while navigating societal stigma both before and after the ban is lifted.


Four transgender service members are forced to live double lives in the military and at home. They face systemic discrimination at work while discreetly fighting to lift the ban, and confidentially meeting with top Pentagon officials. Ultimately the ban is lifted, but with the 2016 political sea change they worry their futures in both civilian and military life are in jeopardy yet again.


In 2011 the repeal of "Don’t Ask Don’t Tell" (DADT) allowed lesbian, gay and bisexual Americans to serve openly in the United States military. However, the law only addressed sexual orientation, and not gender identity. Consequently, the repeal of DADT had no effect on transgender personnel. 

Despite the prohibitory policies, some 15,500 service members identify as transgender and they are twice as likely to be in the military than non-transgender (cisgender) people, which ironically makes the U.S. armed forces America's largest employer of transgender individuals.

In October 2012, knowing that transgender people were still discriminatorily banned from serving, the TransMilitary project set out to share their stories in the hopes of influencing change. On Thursday June 30, 2016 when Secretary of Defense Ash Carter ended the ban, we won! But with the ongoing violence, stigma and discrimination against transgender individuals our work continues.  

In 2015 Fiona Dawson and Gabriel Silverman & Jamie Coughlin of SideXSide Studios were commissioned by The New York Times to produce the short opinion documentary, Transgender, at War and in LoveThis Op Doc was a huge success, becoming one of The New York Times' most viewed online short films. Dawson was given The White House LGBT Champions of Change award, the film won The White House News Photographers Association's Best Documentary, was nominated for a GLAAD Award in the Outstanding Digital Journalism – Multimedia category, and was a 2016 Emmy® nominee for "Outstanding Short Documentary." 


If you are a transgender service member needing legal help please see links to our TransMilitary supporter Phyllis Randolph Frye