“I swore to protect and help my countrymen,” said Shane Ortega. “Sometimes helping your country doesn’t mean fighting a war; it means speaking up and out.”

Ortega, the first openly serving transgender military service member, will provide a virtual Veterans Day 2020 Keynote Address on November 11 at noon.

Ortega was featured in the HBO documentary The Trans List and on the History Channel’s History NOW. He is a mixed American Indian enrolled in the Skaroreh Katenuauka Nation, a retired disabled combat veteran (U.S. Marines and U.S. Army) of more than 11 years, and a Two-Spirit (Transgender) man.

Ortega has championed human rights legislation and policy for more than a dozen years. As an advocate, consultant, author, speaker, and educator in topics such as LGBTQ+ equity, indigenous rights, disabled veterans rights, the missing and murdered Indigenous women epidemic, Two-Spirit education, land sovereignty, and colonial/tribal law relationship.

He is most commonly known for his work repealing the transgender military ban and co-founding the nonprofit organization Spart*a. He also assisted with education for the “Road Home Program” at Howard Brown Health in Chicago.

Ortega is the recipient of several military and civilian awards, including, most recently, the Icon Award from Harper’s Bazaar, as one of the three most influential champions of human rights for people of color in the United States. He is pursuing a degree in public health and policy, after which he intends to pursue a law degree.

To attend the event, register here.

The event is sponsored by the LGBTQ+ Resource Center, the Black Cultural Center, the American Indian and Indigenous Community Center, the Center for Peace Studies and Violence Prevention, El Centro, HokiePRIDE, the Office of Veteran Services, and Women’s and Gender Studies.