If you want to talk about allies, Congresswoman Deb Haaland (NM-01) better be near the top of your list. On Wednesday, at a Military Personnel Subcommittee Hearing, she delivered a tearful statement of support for transgender military members testifying about the Trump administration’s service policy.
“It’s not everybody who will make a decision to say, ‘I would die for my country,’ because a lot of people wouldn’t and I believe if there is one person who isn’t fit to serve — we all know who that is right now,” she said. “That person devalues things that our people want to do to make our country better and move it forward. And although I can't apologize for that person, I can tell you that I will do everything in my power to make sure we can bring back some civility and respect to the people who are serving our country.”
In her statement, Rep. Haaland also spoke directly to Trump’s exclusionary actions and how much she values the service of all Americans in the military as the daughter of two veterans. She discussed her own experiences with being marginalized, nodding to her historic election as one of the first two Native American women in Congress alongside openly queer Rep. Sharice Davids last November.
We will not rest until every transgender service member is treated with respect and fairness, and we are honored to have @RepDebHaaland on our side. #TransMilitaryBan #ProtectTransTroops pic.twitter.com/gNS3yGILmd
— Human Rights Campaign (@HRC) February 28, 2019
This isn’t the first time she’s shown support for the community. After officially taking office in January, she proudly displayed the trans flag outside of her office in an act of solidarity, just hours after the Supreme Court ruled to lift injunctions blocking trans troops from serving in the military. And, she brought Mara Keisling, the executive director of the National Center for Transgender Equality as her guest to this year’s State of the Union. It’s clear she’s in this fight for the long haul.
In a statement before the Subcommittee Hearing, Haaland said, “We should be thankful to anyone who has decided to serve our country, but this administration has decided to single out a group of people for political reasons. Transgender servicemembers honorably serve our country, and are not any different than any other service member: they come from families in which service is a tradition, they go through the same training and abide by the same requirements, and they are actively serving overseas. They deserve fairness and respect.”
At the hearing, the first-ever active-duty trans service members testified before Congress. Their testimonies touched on everything from combat readiness to their experiences transitioning (both socially and medically) surrounded by cisgender peers.
Within her short time in office, Rep. Haaland has proven herself to be a dedicated ally to trans servicemembers. With her assignments on the House Armed Services Committee and the Congressional Equality Caucus, we’re sure she’ll continue to be a powerful one too.