A transgender airman and his financée, a transgender soldier, will attend Wednesday’s LGBT Pride Month reception.
Both Senior Airman Logan Ireland and Army Cpl. Laila Villanueva were the subject of the recent documentary “Transgender, at War and in Love,” directed and produced by Fiona Dawson.
The Air Force has been supportive of Ireland’s decision to serve as an openly transgender airman. He will attend Wednesday’s event in a male dress blue uniform.
“Being invited to the White House as an actively serving transgender airman is one of the most humbling experiences of my life so far,” Ireland said in a statement emailed to Air Force Times. “To be able to attend in my male dress blues is ground breaking.
“For the first time I will be myself when I put on my blues, and I will carry a newfound sense of pride. Representing my Air Force at the White House is a great honor. However, being able to represent the more than 15,000 transgender military members that are still serving in silence is why I am there.”
In the documentary, Villanueva says the Army has not been supportive of her transition to a woman. Villanueva, a nurse at Tripler Army Medical Center, Hawaii, said she has been asked to tell patients to treat her as male.
She will attend the White House event in civilian attire.
“To be able to attend this event is quite surreal in itself,” Villanueva said in a statement to Air Force Times. “But to be able to attend as my authentic self is even more amazing. Although I have not been permitted to wear the female uniform, to be there dressed and seen as the person I am is good enough for me. I will be amongst other members who have only dreamt of being where we are at today.”
Both Ireland and Villanueva believe transgender service members have the momentum on their side to eventually be able to serve openly, without fear of being discharged.
“We are ready for our military to recognize us,” he said.
“We have come so far and we will all look back one day and humbly smile at our accomplishments,” she said.