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POW/MIA flags replaced with Transgender Equality flags outside some Capitol Hill offices

A POW/MIA flag flies over Schriever Air Force Base, Colo., Sept. 15, 2014, in remembrance of the nation's prisoners of war and missing in action. (Dennis Rogers/U.S. Air Force)
March 29, 2019

Democratic members of Congress removed POW/MIA flags outside their offices on Capitol Hill this week and placed Transgender Equality flags in their place.

Several members posted photos online of the flags outside their offices and a message commemorating “Trans Visibility Week” after the National Center for Transgender Equality delivered the flags, Fox News reported Friday.

Most of the photos showed the Transgender Equality flag displayed next to the American flag, with no POW/MIA flag in sight.

Some have considered the removal of the POW/MIA flag as a snub against the military community.

“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,” Sen. Bernie Sanders tweeted with a photo of his flags.

“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,” tweeted Rep. Kim Schrier.

Numerous additional members of Congress posted photos of the flag outside their office under the #TransVisibilityWeek tag, the majority of the photos showing the POW/MIA flag absent.

Few Democrats displayed it alongside the POW/MIA flag.

Rep. Adam Smith is one who displayed both 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,” Smith tweeted.

The flag displays came just before the House voted on a resolution opposing the Trump Administration’s ban on transgender troops in the military.

The resolution passed 238 to 185 condemning the ban, though it does not make any changes to the policy, The Associated Press reported Thursday.

“There is no moral justification for this ban which violates every value of our American democracy,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Thursday.

Legal challenges to the ban have been ongoing, as different versions of the ban have been considered for months.

In January, the Supreme Court permitted the ban to stand while lawsuits were ongoing.

Deputy Defense Secretary David Norquist introduced the new policy on March 12, which set April 12 as the effective date for the ban.

The policy establishes a distinction between transgendered individuals who have received a gender dysphoria diagnosis and treatment for their condition, and those who have not.

While an estimated 15,000 transgender troops currently serve in the military, not all of them would be affected by the policy.

Individuals who identify as transgender but have not received a gender dysphoria diagnosis or treatment will continue to be eligible to serve, but only by their biological sex.

Those who have received treatment will be eligible to serve after they have been declared medically stable for a period of 36 months after treatment.

The last major lawsuit against the ban was struck down by the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals on Tuesday.