Newly elected Rep. Jennifer Wexton, D-Va., started her term with a statement of transgender equality by hanging the trans pride flag outside her office in Washington.
The flag, which can be seen by visitors to the Longworth House Office Building on the south side of the Capitol, is one of the flags that officials traditionally display outside their offices. The American flag and state flags are most common, but representatives can choose what flags to hang.
Abby Carter, Wexton’s chief of staff, confirmed that Wexton — the aunt to a transgender child — hung the flag to make a statement about trans inclusion.
“This is personal for me. We’re talking about my family and friends,” Wexton said in a statement to NBC News. “I want everyone in the trans community to know that they are welcome and loved even in the face of this administration and its attacks on who they are.”
“I didn’t think putting it up would be a big deal, but I’ve received a huge outpouring of support and appreciation from the LGBT community in the past two days,” Wexton added. “We’ve been receiving messages from across the country and they’ve been telling me how much it means to them to see that in the halls of Congress.
Wexton noted that one of her constituents is Danica Roem, the first out transgender person elected to state office.
“Thank you,” tweeted Virginia delegate Danica Roem. “I’m proud to call you my congresswoman.”
Transgender advocacy groups also hailed the decision.
“Representative Wexton has set a clear model of love and acceptance by supporting transgender people not just in the halls of Congress, but in her own family,” said Mara Keisling, executive director of the National Center for Transgender Equality. “By displaying the transgender pride flag at her office, Rep. Wexton is clearly signaling that the equality of all people should be an indispensable value for legislators and families across the country.”
The 116th Congress is the most diverse in history. Wexton is part of the largest ever incoming class of female lawmakers. And that class of women itself contains several historic firsts: Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib are now the first Muslim women to serve in Congress, while Sharice Davids and Deb Haaland became the first Native American women elected. Arizona’s two new senators, Kyrsten Sinema and Martha McSally, are the state’s first female senators.