Washington, DC — Newly elected U.S. Representative Chris Pappas — the first openly LGBTQ member of Congress from New Hampshire — will bring transgender former servicemember Tavion Dignard as his guest to the State of the Union speech tonight. Dignard served in the U.S. Navy for four years under "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" and was honorably discharged in 2002. The invitation from Rep. Pappas is particularly meaningful given the Trump administration's efforts to ban trans servicemembers and the Supreme Court's recent decision to let the ban go into effect while cases work through lower courts.
"The State of the Union is the perfect opportunity to put a human face on trans military members for a national audience and counter Trump's efforts to dehumanize trans people for his own political gain," said Mayor Annise Parker, President & CEO of LGBTQ Victory Institute. "Representative Pappas knows that when fair-minded Americans meet trans people their attitudes change and support for equality grows. Tavion Dignard's presence in the House chamber — along with other trans servicemembers in attendance — will be a powerful moment and is part of a larger effort by LGBTQ members of Congress to derail Trump's attacks on trans people."
Reports say three lawmakers in addition to Representative Pappas will bring trans servicemembers to the State of the Union: Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, Representative Jackie Speier and Representative A. Donald McEachin.
About LGBTQ Victory Institute
LGBTQ Victory Institute works to increase the number of LGBTQ people in public office and to provide programming, service, and other support to ensure their success.