Transgender Americans Mentioned in State of the Union Address for the First Time


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If you’re one of the ones who stayed up watching President Obama’s State of the Union (SOTU) address, you witnessed history in the making. The speech included the word “transgender” for the first time in our nation’s history. If you missed it, here’s how it went:

As Americans, we respect human dignity, even when we’re threatened. … That’s why we defend free speech, and advocate for political prisoners, and condemn the persecution of women, or religious minorities, or people who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender. We do these things not only because they’re right, but because they make us safer.

Short and sweet, yes, but monumental, nonetheless. Transgender issues have featured prominently in politics and pop culture lately: Just this week Governor Tom Wolf announced that a trans woman, Dr. Rachel Levine, was appointed to his cabinet as physician general; and Transparent won big last week at the Golden Globes, prompting moving speeches about the trans community. With all this happening at once, it seems like we’re approaching a new day in the way we treat transgender individuals. Though, yes, we still have a long way to go.

Speaking of long ways, same-sex marriage also came into play in the SOTU, with the president saying:

“I’ve seen something like gay marriage go from a wedge issue used to drive us apart to a story of freedom across our country, a civil right now legal in states that seven in 10 Americans call home.”

This comes less than a week after the Supreme Court announced that it would make a decision on whether same-sex marriage should be legal nationwide.