Walking the halls of Congress in recent weeks, Rep. Jennifer Wexton (D-Va.) noticed that in addition to flags honoring the U.S. and their home states, many members displayed a third one outside their offices.
Some waved the rainbow gay pride banner; others the solemn black and white flag of prisoners of war.
Wexton, the newly elected congresswoman representing Northern Virginia's 10th District, decided to pay tribute to the transgender community by flying the transgender pride flag.
"Given that that community has been under attack and for me it's personal, it was kind of an easy call to raise awareness and show my solidarity," she said in a phone interview Friday.
Wexton said her transgender niece, 19, and the teen's mother were touched by the gesture.
The newly sworn-in congresswoman is also close to Virginia Del. Danica Roem (D-Prince William), one of the nation's first openly transgender elected officials.
Wexton, a former state senator, served in the Virginia General Assembly with Roem in 2018.
As news of the flag — which features five horizontal stripes: two light blue, two pink and one white — spread Friday, people made pilgrimages to Wexton's Longworth office to see it and drop off notes of thanks. Staff members were flooded with phone calls and emails.
The National Center for Transgender Equality filmed a 23-minute-long Facebook Live in the hallway beside the flag.
"The response has been overwhelmingly positive," Wexton said. "There have been some haters, but they're in the small minority."
Jenna Portnoy covers Virginia, Maryland and D.C. politics for The Washington Post. She previously worked for the Newark Star-Ledger and the Allentown Morning Call, and has been a newspaper reporter since 2001. This appeared in The Washington Post on January 4, 2019.
January 6, 2019
Post Script. Isn’t it wonderful to have Representatives who represent and celebrate the true diversity of America! Thank you, Rep Wexton! #RainbowCongress #PelosiHous