POW/MIA Org: Replacing Military Flag With Transgender Equality Flag Was 'Oblivious' to Concerns of Veterans, Families

POW/MIA flag transgender equality flag replacement
A POW-MIA flag hangs at the U.S. Capitol Rotunda, where the public paid respects to the late Senator John McCain on August 27, 2018. For Trans Visibility Week, some legislators displayed the transgender equality flag instead of the POW/MIA flag outside their office, drawing complaints. Alex Wong/Getty Images

For Trans Visibility Week, several transgender equality flags appeared outside offices in the Capitol, and the decision of some legislators to replace the POW/MIA flag outside their office drew criticism.

On Tuesday, the National Center for Transgender Equality announced it had delivered transgender equality flags to every member of Congress and asked them to fly it outside their offices. The organization also called for an end to the community's rights being ignored.

Throughout the week, the organization retweeted a number of photos of legislators with the flag outside their office doors. Representative Kim Schrier was one who replaced the POW/MIA flag with the transgender equality flag.

"The trans equality flag is hanging outside of our office on our third flag pole this week for Trans Visibility Week, along with the state of Washington and U.S. flags," Schrier's office told Newsweek. "We moved the POW/MIA flag into our office for the week. But it will be back outside of our office this afternoon as Trans Visibility week comes to an end."

The decision to swap out the POW/MIA flag drew criticism from some on social media, who said it was offensive and wondered why they couldn't be displayed alongside each other.

Ann Mills-Griffiths, chairman of the board and CEO of the National League of POW/MIA Families, told Newsweek that the POW/MIA flag represents "all Americans who served our country, regardless of race, religion, sexual preference or any other factor—a symbol of our nation's commitment to account for them all as fully as possible." She added that the flag wasn't prejudicial or restrictive.

"I don't mind if any elected official wants to post a flag signaling their support for the transgender community, but why would that message replace the recognized symbol of national commitment to stand with [and] behind those who serve our country?" Mills-Griffiths said.

She noted that the timing was particularly bad because Friday is National Vietnam War Veterans Day, and there are still more than 1,500 Vietnam veterans missing and unaccounted for.

"It seems not only oblivious to the concerns of all American veterans and their families, but especially to the POW/MIA families the league represents," Mills-Griffiths said.

Other legislators also displayed the flag but placed it alongside the American flag, their respective state flag and the POW/MIA flag. Some legislators opted to hang the transgender equality flag on their office door.

Proud to highlight #TransVisibilityWeek in the Halls of Congress. My transgender constituents deserve respect, dignity, and a government that fights for them—which is why I voted to reject the Transgender Military Ban.

This policy is based on prejudice, not military readiness. pic.twitter.com/lQIatKWzhy

— Rep. Max Rose (@RepMaxRose) March 28, 2019

Proud to display @TransEquality's Transgender Pride Flag outside of my office during #TransVisibilityWeek & proud to have voted today against the President’s ban on transgender service members. The trans community deserves our support today & always. #WontBeErased pic.twitter.com/JwSSKZ6Lcb

— Congressman Charlie Crist (@RepCharlieCrist) March 28, 2019

Today I was proud to vote against President Trump’s #TransMilitaryBan. We also placed a flag outside my office in honor of #TransVisibilityWeek. We will fight to make sure the transgender community #WontBeErased pic.twitter.com/O0zpHfcP9R

— Rep. Bobby Scott (@BobbyScott) March 28, 2019

Hate and bigotry have no place in our military and in our country.

Proud to hang this flag on my office door in Washington in support of #TransVisibilityWeek, and even prouder to vote for @RepJoeKennedy’s bipartisan resolution condemning the discriminatory #TransMilitaryBan. pic.twitter.com/e6wjfUpded

— Rep. Colin Allred (@RepColinAllred) March 28, 2019

I’m proud to hang the Transgender Pride Flag on our #AZ02 door. In the halls of Congress, we should always remember our commitment to safety and equality for ALL. #TransVisibilityWeek #WontBeErased pic.twitter.com/Iu1Hy8aZvx

— Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick (@RepKirkpatrick) March 26, 2019

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

No one should be forced to live in the shadows out of fear. I see you, I hear you and I will never stop fighting for the full legal and social equality of the transgender community. Our diversity is our greatest promise. Your visibility is a strength. #WontBeErased pic.twitter.com/wmSkWgqKmL

— Congresswoman Mary Gay Scanlon (@RepMGS) March 26, 2019

Displaying the trans flag outside of my D.C. office during #TransVisibilityWeek to show support for the trans community in my district and across the country. We must stand up for the dignity of trans people and fight for their rights every single day. Trans people #WontBeErased. pic.twitter.com/acIuOG6p0S

— Mark Takano (@RepMarkTakano) March 27, 2019

Everyone deserves our respect, love and support. This #TransVisibilityWeek, I recommit myself to fighting for all transgender Americans. We are made stronger by people who are unafraid to live their truth. The trans community #WontBeErased pic.twitter.com/rbMh97uZm5

— Rep. Hank Johnson (@RepHankJohnson) March 28, 2019

On March 28, the House of Representatives passed a resolution opposing President Donald Trump's ban of openly transgender individuals from serving in the armed forces. Of the 238 congressional members voting favor of the resolution, only five were Republicans, and no Democrats voted in opposition to it.

Along with opposing the ban, the resolution rejected the "flawed scientific and medical claims upon which it is based" and urged the Department of Defense to not reinstate it.