Center on Halsted Director of Gender Equity and Inclusion Vanessa Sheridan led the Center's 2019 salute to transgender service members, veterans and their families on Nov. 6.
The salute has been an annual event at the Center in advance of Veterans Day. A representative from U.S. Sen. Tammy Duckworth's office read a message from Duckworth.
Sheridan, who was speaking off the cuff when the person originally scheduled to give the keynote did not arrive, acknowledged the current fraught status of transgender military personnelwho were banned from service by President Donald Trumpbut both acknowledged contributions made by those people and painted an optimistic picture for the future, citing the community's resilience.
"As a transgender veteran, I'm very concerned about the presence of the transgender military ban," Sheridan said, adding that the ban "does a disservice to the trans community…the military…and the country."
She added, "We deal with a lot of different life issues that a lot of folks just don't encounter unless they're trans, non-binary, gender-queer, gender-fluid or gender-creative."
Nevertheless, Sheridan said, "We don't need to buckle under to it. We have resilience; we can still move forward, no matter what. Trans people are some of the strongest people on the planet. We kind of have to be."