Defense bill amendment would protect open transgender military service

Defense bill amendment would protect open transgender military service
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A bipartisan group of House lawmakers is looking to codify the ability of transgender troops to serve openly with a proposed amendment to the annual defense policy bill.

The amendment would make the open-service policy crafted by the Obama administration law unless Congress acts to change it, effectively blocking the Trump administration from enacting its ban on transgender service members.

The amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) was offered by Democratic Reps. Jackie SpeierKaren (Jackie) Lorraine Jacqueline SpeierDem lawmaker: Trump Jr. lied to Congress on two occasions House Dems plan to re-interview witnesses from Russia probe Hakeem Jeffries defeats Barbara Lee to become Dem caucus chair MORE (Calif.), A. Donald McEachinAston (Donale) Donald McEachinMarcia Fudge under spotlight as Pelosi Speaker fight heats up Virginia reps urge Trump to declare federal emergency ahead of Hurricane Florence Trump, Obamas and Clintons among leaders mourning Aretha Franklin MORE (Va.) and Susan DavisSusan Carol DavisWomen poised to take charge in Dem majority Dems demand answers on Pentagon not recognizing Pride Month Overnight Defense: VA pick breezes through confirmation hearing | House votes to move on defense bill negotiations | Senate bill would set 'stringent' oversight on North Korea talks MORE (Calif.) and moderate Republican Rep. Ileana Ros-LehtinenIleana Carmen Ros-Lehtinen‘Wake up, dudes’ — gender gap confounds GOP women Florida New Members 2019 House GOP returns to Washington after sobering midterm losses MORE (Fla.), whose son is transgender.

The House Rules Committee is set to meet Monday and Tuesday to determine which amendments will get a floor vote, with the House expected to take up the NDAA later in the week.

In March, Trump signed a memo banning most transgender people from serving in the military “except under certain limited circumstances.” The memo gave Defense Secretary James MattisJames Norman MattisTrump, in reversal, calls for Pentagon to raise budget request to 0B: reports Rubio: We don’t need direct evidence crown prince ‘ordered the code red’ on Khashoggi killing Kushner advised Saudi crown prince after Khashoggi killing: report MORE and Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen NielsenKirstjen Michele NielsenInternet gambling addiction is a looming crisis John Kelly to leave White House at year's end López Obrador sworn in as Mexico's president MORE, who oversees the Coast Guard, “authority to implement any appropriate policies concerning military service by transgender individuals.”

No new policy can go into effect immediately, as courts have issued preliminary injunctions in four separate lawsuits that require the Pentagon to continue allowing open service while the cases work their way through the court system.

Trump’s memo was issued in conjunction with the release of a report on Mattis’s recommendations on how to handle transgender troops. The recommendations say that anyone diagnosed with gender dysphoria should be banned except under certain circumstances, including if they have not had gender dysphoria for 36 months or if they have been diagnosed after entering service but do not need to transition gender.

Transgender troops and their advocates say such a policy would effectively create a new “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” for transgender service.

Last year’s House debate on the NDAA included a vote on an amendment that would have banned the Pentagon from providing transition-related medical care to transgender troops.

The amendment was rejected on a largely party-line vote. Two weeks later, Trump first tweeted his intention to ban transgender troops from serving.