Transgender members of the military, past and present, will accompany several members of Congress on Tuesday evening at the State of the Union Address amid an ongoing push by the Trump administration to ban them from the armed forces.
Senator Kirsten Gillibrand of New York and Congressmembers Jackie Speier of California, Donald McEachin of Virginia, and Chris Pappas of New Hampshire were the first Democratic lawmakers to announced they would host transgender service members at the Capitol in solidarity with trans Americans who have watched the current administration scale back LGBTQ rights more than seven years after the formal end of the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy that had barred gay and lesbian military service.
The most recent development in the administration’s effort to ban transgender service members came on January 22 when the Supreme Court stayed two of the four nationwide injunctions that have blocked President Donald Trump from implementing his ban.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, on Tuesday, announced she is joining in the growing number of lawmakers bringing transgender service members to the address. Captain Jennifer Peace and Major Ian Brown, who are both transgender members of the military, will accompany her.
Speier said on February 1 that she would be bringing Air Force Staff Sergeant Logan Ireland, while Gillbrand announced she would be with Lieutenant Commander Blake Dremann, who was the first openly transgender service member to be promoted in the US military. Calling him a “patriot,” Gillibrand said on Twitter on Monday that she is “honored he’ll be joining me at the State of the Union.”
“Lt. Commander Blake Dremann is one of thousands of transgender Americans serving in our military with honor and distinction,” Gillibrand wrote in a tweet. “He’s been deployed 11 times and won the Navy’s highest logistics award.”
US Navy Petty Officer Second Class Megan Winters, a plaintiff in Lambda Legal and Outserve-SLDN’s lawsuit challenging the ban, will join McEachin.
Chris Pappas, an out gay representative serving his first term, is bringing Tavion Dignard, a transgender Navy veteran.
“The Trump Admin’s transgender service ban makes America less safe and politicizes our military; everyone who is fit to serve should be treated equally,” Pappas wrote on Twitter.
Other members of Congress are also inviting transgender leaders, including those who are not in the military. Congressmember Deb Haaland of New Mexico, also serving her first term, has invited Mara Keisling, who is the executive director of the National Center for Transgender Equality.