The first openly transgender officer to be promoted in the U.S. military is expected to attend President Donald Trump's State of the Union address Tuesday night, the New York Daily News reported.
Navy Lt. Cmdr. Blake Dremann plans to be at the event as a guest of U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), who hopes it sends a message to the president regarding the administration's ban on transgender people in the military.
"Lt. Cmdr. Dremann is a proud member of the U.S. Navy, he is a loyal patriot who has devoted his career to serving and protecting our country, and he is also one of the thousands of transgender service members serving in our military with honor and distinction," Gillibrand said in a statement. "Transgender service members like Lt. Cmdr. Dremann make extraordinary sacrifices every day to defend our freedom and our most sacred values, and President Trump's decision to ban them from military service is cruel and undermines our military readiness."
Gillibrand, a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, also has plans to introduce new legislation to "protect current and future transgender service members," according to NBC News.
"Any transgender American who meets the standards should be able to sign up to join our armed forces," she said. "I am proud to lead this fight and I urge all of my Senate colleagues to join me in supporting this legislation."
What did Dremann say?
Dremann, who was promoted to lieutenant commander in 2016, the Daily News reported, he hopes to put a human face on transgender military members.
"My intention is to simply bring a personal face to being transgender in the military," Dremann said. "We are serving with honor, courage, and commitment to a cause greater than ourselves. And we will continue to do so."
What is the policy for transgender people in the military?
In March, the White House issued a statement announcing that transgender people would not be allowed to serve in the military on the basis that they presented a "considerable risk to military effectiveness and lethality." The policy reversed an Obama-era policy that allowed transgender people to serve openly.
In April, a federal judge ruled against the ban and upheld a preliminary injunction from December 2017 that prevented Trump's policy from taking effect.
Last month, the Supreme Court ruled that the ban would go into effect until lower courts issue a decision on whether or not the ban is constitutional.
The current policy allows transgender service members to continue serving but it bars new ones from signing up. Current members are also banned from starting gender transition while serving.