Rep. Joe Kennedy III is bringing a transgender soldier as his guest to Tuesday’s State of the Union address to protest the transgender military ban supported by the Trump administration.
According to a report in The Boston Globe on Saturday, the Massachusetts Democrat invited Army Staff Sgt. Patricia King to accompany him.
“I have served for almost 19 years,” King told The Globe. “And all of a sudden, it is all hanging in the balance.”
“You’re trying to work up the courage to make that leap, and once you do, gravity does the rest,” she added.
King realized she was transgender in 2013 at the end of her last deployment and was the first service member to have the military pay for her gender reassignment surgery.
“There are much easier ways to get surgery covered than enlisting in the military, [facing] the possibility of deployment, and dealing with the stigma of being a transgender service member,” she said.
“Every one of us who raises our right hand is prepared to give everything in the defense of our country.”
Kennedy, the grandson of the late Robert Kennedy, will deliver the Democratic response to President Donald Trump’s State of the Union, Democratic leaders announced Thursday. They called Kennedy a “relentless fighter for working Americans.”
His decision to bring a transgender member of the military comes after Trump announced in July that all transgender individuals would be banned from serving in the U.S. military. That ban has since been halted by a federal court and transgender individuals have been able to enlist this year.
In a statement on the invitation and upcoming response by Kennedy, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) spoke of Kennedy’s understanding of the American people:
“While President Trump has consistently broken his promises to the middle class, Congressman Kennedy profoundly understands the challenges facing hard-working men and women across the country.”
Tuesday night’s State of the Union will be the first of Trump’s presidency.