House

Lawmakers offer House bill to block transgender troop ban

A bipartisan group of lawmakers introduced legislation Friday to protect transgender people from being pulled from military service. 

The proposal from Reps. Jackie Speier (D-Calif.), Charlie Dent (R-Pa.), Susan Davis (D-Calif.), Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.), Adam Smith (D-Wash.) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) prevents the Department of Defense from removing currently serving members of the Armed Forces based solely on their gender identity.

President Trump in July announced in a series of tweets that he was reinstating a ban on transgender people serving in the military, claiming the Pentagon could not be "burdened with the tremendous medical costs and disruption" brought by their service. 

In August, he signed a memo instructing the Department of Defense to begin implementing the ban.

"Kicking out members of the United States Armed Services solely based on their gender identity is hateful, discriminatory, and on the wrong side of history," Speier said in a statement.

"News flash, Mr. President - thousands of transgender troops already serve our country with pride and dignity. Our military should be focused on recruiting and retaining the best troops, not on rejecting qualified service members on the basis of discrimination." 

The House bill is a companion to legislation offered in the Senate last month by Sens. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), John McCain (R-Ariz.), Jack Reed (D-R.I.) and Susan Collins (R-Maine).

Last month, Defense Secretary James Mattis released an interim guidance that implements the ban on new recruits but allows transgender service members to continue serving in the military and receive medical care while the department determines how to enforce Trump's order. The guidance, however, says no new sex reassignment surgeries will be allowed after March 22.

Under the House bill, Mattis would be required to complete his review accepting transgender individuals into the armed forces by the end of this year and report the results to Congress. 

Ros-Lehtinen called the ban a "sad reminder of the dark chapters in our nation's history that should never be repeated." 

"Any patriot, as long as they are qualified to serve, should have the ability to, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity," she said. "These individuals are willing to sacrifice their lives for our freedom, a freedom that they should also be able to enjoy."

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