The US House is set to vote today (July 13) on an amendment that would ban transgender service members—and their family–from seeking gender-affirming healthcare services.
This amendment was submitted by Rep. Vicky Hartzler (R-Mo.), who just two weeks ago failed at her attempt to ban trans service members from the military altogether in an NDAA markup before the House Armed Services Committee. The current amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) would close up any funds to the Defense Department that provide medical treatment for any gender-affirming care, including hormone therapy and surgery options.
Marine veteran and Human Rights Campaign spokesperson Stephen Peters has publicly spoken out against these attempts to roll back rights for trans service members. Peters was discharged under “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” and continues to advocate for LGBTQ vets and service members.
“Rep. Hartzler’s attack on active duty troops and their families is unconscionable,” said Stephen Peters. “The proposal would bar access to medically necessary health care for military families and transgender service members who put their lives on the line for this country. It puts their health at risk and undermines military readiness by stripping away the ability of medical professionals to ensure their patients have the care they need and deserve. It is imperative that the House of Representatives reject this harmful amendment.”
Due to the lack of support for transgender service members, there needs to be legislation ensuring equal rights to non-LGBTQ service members. However, with the current administration we are seeing the opposite occur. This is the first time in US History that the house will consider an action taken specifically to revoke rights for trans people.
Out co-chair of the LGBT Equality Caucus Rep. Jared Polis (D-Colo.) offered a counter amendment to strike the anti-trans measure from the rule to be voted on today. However, his proposal was voted out in an 8-2 party-line vote.
“Medical treatments are between doctors and patients,” Polis said. “There’s not an appropriate issue for somebody to prevent a particular kind of medical treatment from being given. The Hartzler amendment undermines readiness by arbitrarily limiting medical care for transgender service members.”
In order to substantiate her claims, Hartler has cited figures that drastically inflate health care costs for transgender people, her calculations remain disputable. RAND corporation completed a study commissioned by the Pentagon which estimates the overall cost increase to include trans-inclusive healthcare are minimal.
Trans service members are at high risk for discrimination and continue to put their lives on the line to protect American citizens every day. The Williams Institute estimates there are currently 15,500 active trans service members in the US military and more than 134,000 transgender veterans who are still alive today—many of whom had to live silenced and closeted under “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” until the end of their service. If our country continues to make attempts at anti-trans legislation for our military, how are they supposed to go out for missions feeling supported?
Update: the amendment was voted down by the House on July 13, 2017.