Transgender Airman Attends White House Pride Reception In Male Uniform
On Wednesday, President Obama took a huge step forward for transgender rights in the military when he invited Senior Airman Logan Ireland, an openly transgender member of the Air Force, to attend an LGBT pride reception at the White House in a male military uniform.
In February, the White House changed its position on transgender officers, saying the transgender community has every right to serve in the military.
The White House pushed this position even further when the president personally invited Senior Airman Logan Ireland and his fiancée -- another trans member of the military -- to attend the function.
Ireland's attendance at the event in man's uniform goes against the military's current position on serving as openly transgendered.
Under normal circumstances, this would have been enough to have him discharged from service, but senior military officials have been incredibly supportive of him and his fiancée, according to BuzzFeed.
They not only made an exception allowing him wear a man's uniform, they also put in official orders for him to attend the event.
Ireland is one of a select few trans service members allowed to wear a uniform based on the gender he identifies with.
Ireland's fiancée, Army Corporal Laila Villanueva, a transgender woman, still had to attend the event in civilian clothing.
Ireland told BuzzFeed,
We are trying to make a statement to say, if you are letting me go by male dress and appearance standards, then why not let my [fiancée] wear the uniform that corresponds with her gender identity? She is also active duty in the Army. And there are other people from other branches of the military who are transgender who are not able to go by the same standards I am.
Ireland and Villanueva's attendance at events like this one highlights the clear disconnect between the White House and military's policy on the trans community serving its country.
The reality of being actually discharged from serving in the Army or Air Force because one identifies as transgender is a bit more difficult as it requires senior officials to make the final call for an officer's removal.
That being said, the policy very much still exists, and the power to make any major changes to it ultimately falls to Defense Secretary Ashton Carter.
Allyson Robinson, the policy director for SPARTA, an LGBT service member and veterans group both Ireland and Villanueva are part of, said this invitation to the White House is a clear example of the administration's wish for an official military policy change.
President Obama didn't address transgender rights in the military during his speech at the event on Wednesday.