This past weekend at the 2017 GLAAD San Francisco Gala, Don Lemon was honored with the Davidson/Valentini Award for shining a spotlight on marginalized voices and their stories. In addition to Lemon taking the stage, another memorable moment from the evening was when retired Army veteran Laila Ireland gave an impassioned speech calling out the recent trans military ban.
“People like me and Logan [her husband, trans Air Force Staff Sergeant Logan Ireland], want to serve the country that we love. A country that is already great,” Ireland said at the ceremony. “We are not a burden or an expense. Transgender service members, just like everyone else, fill critical military roles such as commanders, drill sergeants, air crew, special operations and Marines,” she added.
“Removing us from units will disrupt core military missions because everyday soldiers risk their lives fighting for our constitutional right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. So it is my hope that our military leaders will quickly acknowledge that trans troops should have the same freedoms and integrity that we so courageously protect. That is what I believe.”
Veteran Laila Ireland is a retired Healthcare Management Administration Specialist and served for 12 years in the United States Army. She served two combat tours in Iraq and her final duty station was at Tripler Army Medical Center, Hawaii where she was honorably discharged and medically retired in November 2015. Ireland was one of the trans service members who walked the red carpet at this year’s VMAs.
In 2015, Ireland and her husband, Logan, came out publicly in the Emmy-nominated documentary, Transgender at war and in love. She revealed in her GLAAD speech that she is currently working on a new doc with the same director, Fiona Dawson, called Trans Military.
“Trans people are no different than the next person who bleeds or cries or loves. Everyday we fight for the right of good troops to continue their jobs and be their authentic selves at the same time.”
Watch Ireland’s emotional speech below.