Democratic Rep. Joe Kennedy is bringing the military’s first transgender soldier to President Donald Trump’s State of The Union Tuesday evening.
Kennedy will bring Staff Sgt. Patricia King as his personal guest to Trump’s address, in a direct affront to Trump’s ban of transgenders in the military. “I want her to be there as a real person, and the face of an inhumane policy,” Kennedy said, according to the Hill.
“I thought to myself, ‘What am I going to wear?'” King said as he prepares for Tuesday night’s address, according to WMUR9 News. “For him to reach out to me and offer me this opportunity, for us to have these similar ideals as it applies to transgender rights – it’s amazing to have such an advocate on your side.”
“I have served for almost 19 years, and all of a sudden, it is all hanging in the balance,” King told the Boston Globe regarding Trump’s ban on transgender military service.
King was the first active duty soldier to come out as transgender after serving in the military as a man for 18 years. The soldier says that he realized he was a woman in January 2015, and told his family the news shortly thereafter. He is based at Fort Lewis and has served three active combat deployments in Afghanistan.
“In the military we focus on job performance and that’s the only thing that matters,” King said in a 2017 interview following Trump’s tweet announcing the ban on transgenders in the military.
“Here in the military we don’t do anything quickly because we want to ensure that we do things right,” King also added regarding the slow integration of transgenders into the military. “My leadership has supported me and I’ll continue to support them.”
King, who is the first active service member to have his gender reassignment surgery paid for by the military, told the Globe that transgenders aren’t going to start joining the military so that they can get free gender reassignment treatment. “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,” he said.
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