Several Congressional Democrats replaced flags honoring the American veterans with banners celebrating “transgender equality,” according to photos the Democrats shared on social media.
According to Fox News, the flags were delivered to every member of Congress by a group named “National Center for Transgender Equality” along with a request to fly the flags outside their offices.
It is unclear how many Democrats removed POW-MIA flags in favor of the transgender banners, but Washington Free Beacon found proof of at least one Democrat did so. The POW-MIA flag is one of the most commonly flown alongside the American flag but is not seen in most of the photos Democrats shared of the transgender banners.
Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) shared a photo of the flag outside his office.
“Discrimination has no place in our society. I am proud to display this flag as a symbol of my support for transgender people across the country. We must stand with transgender people in all of our communities,” Sanders wrote.
Discrimination has no place in our society. I am proud to display this flag as a symbol of my support for transgender people across the country. We must stand with transgender people in all of our communities. pic.twitter.com/W6Esa16vzP
— Bernie Sanders (@SenSanders) March 26, 2019
Rep. Kim Schrier (D-Wash.) posted a similar photo one of several other Democrats who also posted photos of the flag, claiming that she will defend transgender people from being “erased by violence.”
“I am committed to safety and equality for all,” Schrier wrote.
As a proud member of the @LGBTEqCaucus, I will do everything I can to make sure transgender people #WontBeErased by violence, fear or prejudice. I am committed to safety and equality for all. #TransVisibilityWeek pic.twitter.com/eB9nihPsaI
— Rep. Kim Schrier (@RepKimSchrier) March 27, 2019
The Washington Free Beacon reported that Schrier had flown the customary POW/MIA flag outside her office in January. Schrier’s office responded to say that the switch to the transgender flag is temporary.
Rep. Pete Aguilar (D-Calif.) and Rep. Tim Ryan (D-Ohio) also swapped out the POW/MIA flags for transgender banners, the Beacon reported. According to The Hill, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), and Rep. Jennifer Wexton (D-Va.) also displayed the transgender banners.
A Republican lawmaker’s office told the Beacon that they were asked to exchange the POW/MIA flag for the transgender flag but did not comply.
At least three Democrats, Rep. Adam Smith (D-Wash.), Rep. Mazi Hirono (D-Hawaii) and Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick (D-Ariz.), did not remove the POW/MIA flags in order to display the transgender flags.
During #TransVisibilityWeek I join in solidarity with transgender constituents in WA09 and transgender people across the country. In the halls of Congress, we should always remember our commitment to safety and equality for everyone. My office is welcome and open to all. pic.twitter.com/6jUMWc64qz
— Rep. Adam Smith (@RepAdamSmith) March 26, 2019
As we recognize #TransVisibilityWeek, I’m proud to fly the Transgender Pride Flag in the halls of Congress as a symbol of my support and commitment to ensuring equality for all people across the country. You are seen. You are heard. You #WontBeErased. pic.twitter.com/lZ0UKAzRnh
— Senator Mazie Hirono (@maziehirono) March 27, 2019
The transgender flags accompanied the House Democrats’ rebuke to President Donald Trump’s ban on transgender people serving in the military. Only a handful of Republicans joined the Democrats to oppose the ban: Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick (R-Penn.), Rep. Trey Hollingsworth (R-Ind.), Will Hurd (R-Texas), John Katko (R-N.Y.), and Tom Reed (R-N.Y.).
The Supreme Court in January ruled to allow the Pentagon to enforce limits on transgender military service while lawsuits challenging the limit continue.
The Department of Defense had a ban on transgender military service, but President Barack Obama allowed transgender people already in service to serve openly.
Transgender people make up 0.3 percent of the United States population, according to 2011 findings by the Williams Institute.
More than 82,000 Americans are missing from World War II and other conflicts, according to the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency.
— Rep. Katie Hill (@RepKatieHill) March 27, 2019
As a member of the @LGBTEqCaucus, I will do everything to make sure transgender people #WontBeErased by violence, fear, or prejudice. This flag is a symbol of my commitment to preserve the right of every person to dignity & pride. #TransVisibilityWeek pic.twitter.com/LgQngLgYc6
— Rep Ayanna Pressley (@RepPressley) March 27, 2019
To every transgender American: I see you, I hear you, and you #WontBeErased. As a member of the @LGBTEqCaucus, I will do everything I can to fight the hateful ban on transgender patriots in the military and every act of prejudice against the trans community. #TransVisibilityWeek pic.twitter.com/AP0m9JO9QX
— Rep. Debbie Mucarsel-Powell (@RepDMP) March 27, 2019