U.S. Air Force Sr. Airman Logan Ireland, a trans man from North Texas, and his fiancee, Army Cpl. Laila Villanueva, are among the six members of SPARTA, an advocacy organization of LGBT people who are currently serving in the U.S. military or are military veterans, who will be attending the White House’s annual LGBT Pride Month Reception on Wednesday, June 24.
Ireland, who joined the Air Force in 2010 as a woman, began his transition to male in 2012. He told Air Force Times earlier this month that he chose to wait until after enlisting to transition because he would not have been able to enlist as a transgender person. Ireland, who recently returned from Afghanistan, serves openly and has the support of his chain of command and the soldiers with whom he serves. He told Air Force Times that he is sharing his own story publicly in hopes of helping the 15,000 transgender troops who must remain closeted to maintain their military careers — including his fiancee.
New York Times recently posted this op-doc video, “Transgender at War and in Love,” about Ireland and Villanueva.
While Air Force policy still allows for the involuntary separation from service of transgender servicemen and women, the Air Force recently elevated the decision authority for such separations to the director of the Air Force Review Boards Agency. The Army instituted a similar change in March.
Because he identified as female when he enlisted in the Air Force, current regulations require Ireland to abide by female uniform and grooming standards. After he was invited to the reception, however, Ireland notified his command who authorized a policy exemption allowing him to attend the reception in male dress uniform. Villanueva will attend in civilian attire.
Other SPARTA members attending are Arm Col. (Retired) Sheri Swokowski, Navt Lt. Cdr. (USNR) Brynn Tannehill, former Marine Sgt. Devon Allen and former Army National Guard Spc. Bryce Jordan Celotto.