TRANSMILITARY

★★★★

POWERFUL AND IMPORTANT FILMMAKING

MELBOURNE QUEER FILM FESTIVAL REVIEW
By Brent Davidson
17th March 2019

'TransMilitary' is a documentary feature looking into the experience of transgender service people in the American Armed Forces in the aftermath of the revoking of the "Don't ask, don't tell" policy. For those who don't know, and this is a very simplified retelling: the policy introduced in 1994 prohibited discrimination of closeted homosexual or bisexual service members from being discriminated agains within the armed forces, while at the same time barring openly homosexual or bisexual people from military service. This policy was ended in 2011, but it wasn't the end of the battle for some members of the LGBTQI+ community. This documentary follows the lives of four transgender service people and their appeal to their higher-ups in the military to allow transgender people to openly serve in the American Armed Forces. These brave people do this under the looming potential of being ejected from the military, putting their livelihoods and families at risk as (at the time of the documentaries creation) the policy in place was to not allow openly transgender to serve.

'TRANSMILITARY' TRAILER

The grand irony of this policy is that approximately 15,500 transgender people serve in the U.S. military, making them the largest employer of transgender people in the United States.

When documentary shines a light onto an issue such as this, it is amazing to see the utter bravery shown in the face of what could be a life-changing decision, were it to go awry. So often though, the makers can lend too much of their own voice and not let the subjects speak for themselves. In 'TransMilitary', the strongest voice is of the service people who the documentary is about, only with cold hard facts at decently spaced intervals that guide and strengthen the thesis.

I found myself so often in tears during this often very emotional documentary. Their stories are both so unique and truly universal.

I found myself so often in tears during this often very emotional documentary. Their stories are both so unique and truly universal. It is also abundantly clear that for LGBTQI+ the fight for equality isn't over; same sex marriage is a step but there are even more that must be taken for everyone to be able to live their truth in a free, liberated and supported way. Not to spoil too much of the film, but the (positive) outcome that was reached in 2016 is currently being attempted to be taken down by the current administration under Trump.

'TransMilitary' is gut-wrenching, funny, poignant and important documentary making. It's an example of documentary making at its finest. It's urgent and unmissable. Do yourself a favour and see it.

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