Press Release

Gillibrand Invites Decorated Transgender Navy Lieutenant Commander To State Of The Union Address After Supreme Court Allows President Trump’s Transgender Military Service Ban To Go Into Effect; Senator Ready To Introduce New Legislation To Protect Transgender Troops

Feb 4, 2019

Washington, DC – U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, today announced that she will bring decorated transgender Navy Lieutenant Commander Blake Dremann to this year’s State of the Union address as she readies new legislation to protect transgender service members in response to the recent Supreme Court ruling allowing President Trump’s ban on transgender military service to go into effect. Gillibrand introduced bipartisan legislation with the late Senator John McCain last Congress to defend transgender troops.

“I am inspired by Lieutenant Commander Blake Dremann’s leadership and am honored that he will be attending the State of the Union as my guest,” said Senator Gillibrand. “Lieutenant Commander Dremann is a proud member of the U.S. Navy, he is a loyal patriot who has devoted his career to serving and protecting our country, and he is also one of the thousands of transgender service members serving in our military with honor and distinction. Transgender service members like Lieutenant Commander Dremann make extraordinary sacrifices every day to defend our freedom and our most sacred values, and President Trump’s decision to ban them from military service is cruel and undermines our military readiness. The heads of the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, and Coast Guard have testified to Congress that transgender service members are serving in our military without any problems. Any transgender American who meets the standards should be able to sign up to join our Armed Forces, and that’s why I’m going to introduce new legislation this week to protect current and future transgender service members. I am proud to lead this fight and I urge all of my Senate colleagues to join me in supporting this legislation.”

Gillibrand, who led the successful bipartisan effort to repeal the military’s discriminatory “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy, will introduce her new legislation to protect current and future transgender service members later this week. This legislation would prohibit the Department of Defense from kicking out members of the military solely because of gender identity and prevent the Department from blocking transgender Americans from signing up to join the Armed Forces. Gillibrand introduced similar bipartisan legislation last Congress with then-Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman John McCain.

Gillibrand’s State of the Union guest, Lieutenant Commander Blake Dremann, is the President of SPARTA, an LGBT Military Advocacy organization focused on transgender military advocacy that assists over 800 service members, across all seven uniformed services, in navigating and understanding the transgender military policies so as to ensure the highest military readiness. Dremann regularly assisted with educating commanders on implementing the Department of Defense’s transgender open service policy.

Lieutenant Commander Dremann’s personal decorations include the Defense Meritorious Service Medal, the Joint Service Commendation Medal, the Joint Service Achievement Medal, the Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal, and four Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medals. He is qualified as a Submarine Warfare Supply officer and Surface Warfare Supply officer. In 2018, Dremann received the Department of Defense Pride Military Leadership Award and was an Out Serve-Service Members Legal Defense Network “Outstanding Advocate” Honoree for their 25th Anniversary. Dremann is a 2003 graduate of Ozark Christian College, earning his Bachelor of Biblical Literature. He is also a 2016 graduate of the Air Command and Staff College Joint Professional Military Education Phase I and is scheduled to graduate with a Masters of Business Administration from Norwich University in June 2019.