Watch trans military veteran Laila Ireland make a powerful case for equality.

Trans people need all the help they can get on this issue.

Retired Army veteran Laila Ireland isn't about to let President Trump kick trans people out of the military without putting up a fight.

Ireland, a trans woman herself, took the stage at GLAAD's San Francisco Gala to give a speech rejecting the administration's plans to ban people like her from serving openly in the military. While she's retired, her husband, Air Force Staff Sgt. Logan Ireland, is still on active duty.

Ireland's speech took aim at Trump's unfounded claim that letting trans people serve in the military is some sort of burdensome expense (the estimated total cost of providing health care for trans service members is between $2.4 and $8.4 million per year, or roughly one-fifth of what the military already spends on Viagra), and highlighted a number of the key roles that trans service members are currently filling. To remove these patriotic Americans from their posts and to deny trans people the same right as everyone else to serve their country is not only harmful for the trans community, but for the military and country as a whole.


GIFs from GLAAD/YouTube.

In her speech, Ireland called on military leaders to speak up and voice opposition to the ban before it's too late.

"It is my hope that our military leaders will quickly acknowledge that transgender troops should get the same freedoms and integrity we so courageously protect," said Ireland. It's a message that extends beyond just military service.

Perhaps she's right. Perhaps a strong show of support from military leaders and veterans for the role trans service members play in keeping our country safe could change the course of the plan to re-institute a ban on trans service, expected to be put in place by March 2018.

Sadly, though, the ban on military service is just one of several ongoing attacks against trans people in America.

The Trump administration has adjusted how it interprets civil rights legislation and nondiscrimination policies when it comes to employment, health care, housing, public accommodations, education, and so much more. Trump's Supreme Court pick, Neil Gorsuch, has shown himself to be brutally anti-trans — as have a number of other members of Trump's administration. Though it's easy to conclude that whatever progress for trans rights Trump undoes can simply be redone by the next administration, it's nowhere near that easy.

Laila hugs her husband, Logan, in this image from The New York Times' "Transgender, at War and in Love" documentary. Image from The New York Times/YouTube.

Allies are needed now more than ever before to help hold the line on the progress that's been made before it's too late.

There are an estimated 1.4 million transgender people living in the U.S., which in the larger sense, is still a pretty tiny sliver of the population, making the group easy to pick on. Sadly, since the Supreme Court ruled that marriage equality was now the law of the land, many of the organizations and politicians that had been fighting against the push for marriage have since turned their focus to trans people.

The good news is that a majority of the public doesn't agree with efforts to discriminate against trans people. It's great to have those allies, but it's even better if they're willing to speak out against anti-trans hate, push back on politicians who support discrimination, and use their voice to fight for equality whenever possible. It's a long battle, but if allies can help win over hearts and minds, there's a good chance we'll all come out on top.

Watch Laila Ireland's powerful speech below.

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Disney has come under fire for problematic portrayals of non-white and non-western cultures in many of its older movies. They aren't the only one, of course, but since their movies are an iconic part of most American kids' childhoods, Disney's messaging holds a lot of power.

Fortunately, that power can be used for good, and Disney can serve as an example to other companies if they learn from their mistakes, account for their misdeeds, and do the right thing going forward. Without getting too many hopes up, it appears that the entertainment giant may have actually done just that with the new Frozen II film.

According to NOW Toronto, the producers of Frozen II have entered into a contract with the Sámi people—the Indigenous people of the Scandinavian regions—to ensure that they portray the culture with respect.

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Though there was not a direct portrayal of the Sámi in the first Frozen movie, the choral chant that opens the film was inspired by an ancient Sámi vocal tradition. In addition, the clothing worn by Kristoff closely resembled what a Sámi reindeer herder would wear. The inclusion of these elements of Sámi culture with no context or acknowledgement sparked conversations about cultural appropriation and erasure on social media.

Frozen II features Indigenous culture much more directly, and even addressed the issue of Indigenous erasure. Filmmakers Jennifer Lee and Chris Buck, along with producer Peter Del Vecho, consulted with experts on how to do that respectfully—the experts, of course, being the Sámi people themselves.

Sámi leaders met with Disney producer Peter Del Vecho in September 2019.Sámediggi Sametinget/Flickr

The Sámi parliaments of Norway, Sweden and Finland, and the non-governmental Saami Council reached out to the filmmakers when they found out their culture would be highlighted in the film. They formed a Sámi expert advisory group, called Verddet, to assist filmmakers in with how to accurately and respectfully portray Sámi culture, history, and society.

In a contract signed by Walt Disney Animation Studios and Sámi leaders, the Sámi stated their position that "their collective and individual culture, including aesthetic elements, music, language, stories, histories, and other traditional cultural expressions are property that belong to the Sámi," and "that to adequately respect the rights that the Sámi have to and in their culture, it is necessary to ensure sensitivity, allow for free, prior, and informed consent, and ensure that adequate benefit sharing is employed."

RELATED: This aboriginal Australian used kindness and tea to trump the racism he overheard.

Disney agreed to work with the advisory group, to produce a version of Frozen II in one Sámi language, as well as to "pursue cross-learning opportunities" and "arrange for contributions back to the Sámi society."

Anne Lájla Utsi, managing director at the International Sámi Film Institute, was part of the Verddet advisory group. She told NOW, "This is a good example of how a big, international company like Disney acknowledges the fact that we own our own culture and stories. It hasn't happened before."

"Disney's team really wanted to make it right," said Utsi. "They didn't want to make any mistakes or hurt anybody. We felt that they took it seriously. And the film shows that. We in Verddet are truly proud of this collaboration."

Sounds like you've done well this time, Disney. Let's hope such cultural sensitivity and collaboration continues, and that other filmmakers and production companies will follow suit.

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