Does advocating for queer and trans people to serve in the US military move the struggle for queer and trans justice forward toward liberation by improving the lives of queer and trans soldiers and increasing societal acceptance of queer and trans people? Or does it legitimize US military imperialism and increase the likelihood of more queer and trans people being abused and traumatized in the US military? This article consists of a conversation between Aaron Belkin, director of the Palm Center, who has spent decades advocating for queer and trans military inclusion, and Dean Spade, a trans racial- and- economic- justice–focused activist and scholar who opposes military inclusion advocacy. The conversation examines fundamental debates about the possibilities and limits of legal equality for marginalized and stigmatized groups, drawing on critical race theory, women of color feminisms, anticolonial critique, and competing theories of queer and trans liberation work.

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