Director: Fiona Dawson & Gabriel Silverman
2018 | USA | 93m
GENRE: Activism | Discrimination | Documentary | Female-to-Male | Health/Medicine | Male-to-Female | Military | Politics | Transgender
SECTION: Documentary Features | Opening Night
Expected Guests: Directors, Fiona Dawson & Gabriel Silverman, Subjects, Debbie Reim & Laila Ireland, Producer, Jamie Coughlin

Can you guess the largest employer of transgender people in the United States? It’s the military. But each day, more than 15,000 active transgender military personnel face uncertainty. The careers they have chosen, and the commitment to country they have made, are in peril: never protected even by the flawed “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy, they are now actively threatened with a transgender ban. They are, in many ways, the visible front line of America’s fight for LGBTQ rights. Filmmakers Fiona Dawson and Gabriel Silverman bring us vividly into the epicenter of the battle in this captivating, emotionally charged documentary.

In TransMilitary, the inspiring stories of four transgender troops give human faces and hearts to a lightning-rod political issue. With an all-access pass to the day-to-day reality of these passionate, diverse Americans, we watch them do their jobs, bond with family and friends, and fight for their right to defend our liberty. From the rugged roads of deployment to the hallowed halls of the Pentagon, these four soldiers risk their livelihood by being public about their transgender status, in an effort to improve the lives of all soldiers. The film skillfully paints a picture of an upside-down world in which the security of our country and the rights of all Americans are measured against who can use which bathroom. The rollercoaster reality of this situation continues today: while the transgender ban was lifted in 2016, its status remains uncertain under the current regime. This timely, powerful documentary took home the Audience Award at this year’s SXSW Film Festival.


TransMilitary is a recipient of a Frameline Completion Fund Grant.

Arnold & Porter Kaye Scholer, Palm Center, Bloomberg

Following TransMilitary, join us for our glittering Opening Night Gala at Terra Gallery (511 Harrison Street at First Street). Feast on the sights, sounds, and flavors of the Festival while celebrating with mediamakers, industry professionals, and filmgoers alike.

  • Premiere Status: West Coast