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At a glance:Veteran Laila Ireland courageously came out as a transgender service member by sharing her story in the Emmy-nominated short film "Transgender, at War and in Love." Today, Laila advocates for transgender equality by speaking across the country and establishing safe spaces for this critical conversation.
Laila Ireland is a retired Healthcare Management & Administration Supervisor. She enlisted into the Army in 2003 as a Human Intelligence Collector and re-classed to become a Combat Medic after her first tour during Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2005-2006. Her passion in advocacy for LGBTQ2 Youth and Veterans is very evident in her work today.
Laila is a native to Hawaii and comes from a long legacy of military members. She fashioned her life after her father, grandfather and great grandfather whom all served. A small town girl, she was well known for being outspoken and always took initiative to help others around her. She even made it a point to be a part of Hawaii’s Young Ambassadors for Change, making her the first in her family to be recognized by the state of Hawaii for creating a no-bully program at her local school. Her desire to serve in the military came during her time in high school, as she quickly worked her way through the ranks and served on her JROTC Battalion as their S-1 OIC.
Always a soldier, Laila’s activism began in 2012 with the LGBT military advocacy organization OutServe-SLDN Trans. She then joined and helped build SPART*A Trans in 2013. Through these non-profit organizations she talks about the intersections of being transgender, female, a person of color, a veteran, Asian American Pacific Islander, Hispanic and a spouse to a transgender service member while actively serving in the military. She has always conquered and excelled in the tasks that were given to her; making a career in public speaking, advocacy, and activism surrounding LGBTQ2, transmilitary and veterans equality. Laila now serves as the Membership Director of SPART*A Trans, managing over 800 members across the world.
Laila was given the 2016 Military Spouse Leadership Award by the American Military Partner Association, honored as the 2017 Armed Forces Insurance Military Spouse of the Year for Peterson Air Force Base, received the 2018 LGBT Bar Association of Oregon Innovator Award and was the 2018 American Veteran’s for Equal Rights – Rocky Mountain Chapter LGBT Veterans Champion Award recipient. She is also a featured character in the 2018 SXSW Audience Award winning film, TransMilitary, which has served as one of the educating tools surrounding transmilitary equality issues.
TransMilitaryLaila Ireland shares her personal story from the front line of the fight against the transgender military ban.