Anti-trans defense budget amendment defeated in House

"You're joining the U.S. military".

The House of Representatives is set to consider an amendment today (July 13) to the National Defense Authorization Act that prohibits transgender military service members and their families from receiving appropriate medical care related to their transition.

Rep. Adam Smith (D-WA) said during the floor debate that the amendment would take the military in the "wrong direction", and would unfairly target one group of people.

Transgender people have been allowed to serve openly in the military since October 2016.

Democrats, for whom the LGBT community is a major constituent, opposed the amendment on grounds that all Americans should have a chance to serve and receive medical treatment.

Medicare started covering gender reassignment surgery in 2014, after a decades-long ban, in response to a lawsuit filed by a transgender woman who was also a veteran.

According to the Williams Institute, there are an estimated 15,500 actively serving transgender members of the US military.

"By recruiting and allowing "transgender" individuals to serve in our military we are subjecting taxpayers to high medical costs, including up to $130,000 per transition surgery, lifetime hormone treatments, and additional surgeries to address the high percentage of individuals who experience complications", Rep. Hartzler said, adding that "transgender" surgeries alone could cost USA taxpayers $1.35 billion over the next 10 years. But conservatives continued to support a rollback on Obama's military "transgender" policies, and Federal News Radio reported June 27 that "there's still a possibility the [Hartzler] amendment could come up again when the bill goes to the House floor [in July]".

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, California Democrat, called the amendment "appalling" and "mean spirited".

Republican Rep. Vicky Hartzler of Missouri had previously attempted to amend the spending bill with a measure to fully repeal a policy enacted past year, under the Obama administration, that allows transgender people to serve openly and receive transition related care.

The ACLU issued a statement on the Amendment on Thursday, calling for representatives to vote "no" on Hartzler's Amendment in the interest of constitutionality. Hartzler made her hostility to transgender people clear when she compared transgender service members to members of ISIS, describing them as a "domestic threat". "We applaud those members from both parties who stood up for the thousands of transgender service members proudly serving their country".

Her new amendment about medical care was approved by the House Rules Committee on Wednesday night.

Chad Griffin, president of the Human Rights Campaign, said in a statement that the defeat of the amendment sent a "resounding message of support" for transgender service members and their families.

Congresswoman Hartzler argued that taxpayers should not be responsible for transition-related healthcare, including hormone therapy.

"With the challenges we are facing across the globe, we are asking the American people to invest their hard-earned money in national defense".

Transgender troops now in the military have been able to serve openly since previous year.

  • Joe Gonzales