Transgender service member Air Force Staff Sgt. Logan Ireland is set to attend President Trump’s upcoming State of the Union address on Tuesday as a guest of Rep. Jackie Speier (D-Calif.).
Speier, a champion of transgender military service and now chair of the House Armed Services personnel subcommittee, announced Friday on Twitter she had invited Ireland to attend the State of the Union as a guest in the House chamber.
Ireland, a security forces airman who served in Afghanistan, has been public about being transgender in the military. When the Defense Department sought to implement openly transgender service during the Obama administration, the Air Force consulted Ireland for guidance.
Speier gives Ireland visibility as the Trump administration seeks to change that policy to ban transgender military service. Although courts had blocked the Defense Department from implanting Trump’s reversal, the U.S. Supreme Court earlier this month issued stays on those decisions, essentially green lighting the ban. (One injunction issued by a federal court against Trump’s policy remains in place for the time being, but the Justice Department is challenging that order.)
After the Defense Department unveiled plans last year to implement Trump’s plan last year, Speier questioned former Defense Secretary James Mattis about the policy during a congressional hearing, holding up a photo Ireland and asking Mattis to explain why Ireland shouldn’t serve. Mattis declined to say, citing ongoing litigation against the transgender ban.
Technically, Ireland would be able to continue to serve in the military under the Mattis policy — on its face anyway — because it has a grandfather provision for openly transgender people currently in the armed forces. However, openly transgender people wouldn’t be able to enlist in the military unless they’re willing to serve in their biological sex, and individuals who are diagnosed with gender dysphoria or seek transition-related care after enlisting would be kicked out.