Jill Biden personally invites trans teen as guest of honour for Joe Biden’s historic speech to Congress

Emma Powys Maurice
·2-min read

First lady Dr Jill Biden personally invited Stella Keating, a trailblazing transgender teen, as her guest of honour for the president’s address to the joint session of Congress.

Traditionally the first lady would invite guests to join her in her private viewing box, but for this year’s event on Wednesday (28 April) Dr Biden hosted a virtual reception due to COVID-19.

Her youngest guest was 16-year-old Stella Keating, the first transgender person ever invited to a joint session of Congress by a president or first lady.

And it’s not the first time Keating’s made history: just last month she became the first trans teen to testify before the US Senate when she spoke in support of the Equality Act.

“I wanted the senators to get to know me as a person – I had no idea that I would be making history as the youngest transgender person to ever testify before the US Senate,” she admitted as Dr Biden laughed warmly.

Keating was joined by Javier Quiroz Castro, a nurse and undocumented immigrant; Maria-Isabel Ballivian, an early childhood educator from Virginia; Tatiana Washington, a gun violence prevention advocate; and Theron Rutyna, an IT director for a community of Ojibwe Native Americans.

Ahead of the president’s address they joined the first lady to chat about their respective causes. Keating was invited to discuss her advocacy for trans and non-binary youth, including The GenderCool Project.

“GenderCool has a super simple mission – help replace opinions with real positive experiences meeting transgender and non-binary youth who are thriving,” she explained.

“We know that when people just have a chance to meet us their opinions change. And that’s why I chose to testify before the Senate judiciary committee on behalf of the Equality Act.”

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Keating’s high-profile invitation underscores the Biden administration’s position on trans rights at a time when Republicans are backing a record number of bills targeting trans youth.

The teen told Jill Biden how grateful she was to hear the president’s unwavering support for the LGBT+ community, in particular transgender children.

“I just can’t stop smiling!” she said. “Finally, to hear president Biden say all human beings should be treated with respect and dignity and should be able to live without fear, no matter who they are or whom they love, told me that I am valued, that I matter, and that I belong.

“This gives me hope, and more importantly, it gets me excited for my future.”