Gillibrand introduces bipartisan bill to allow transgender military service

Gillibrand introduces bipartisan bill to allow transgender military service

Sen. Kirsten GillibrandKirsten Elizabeth GillibrandThe Hill's Campaign Report: Democratic field begins to shrink ahead of critical stretch Gabbard, Steyer inch toward making third Democratic debate Gillibrand unveils mental health plan MORE (D-N.Y.), who is vying to be the Democratic nominee for president in 2020, introduced Thursday a bill to allow transgender people to serve in the military.

The bill, which was also introduced by Senate Armed Services Committee ranking member Jack ReedJohn (Jack) Francis ReedSenate Democrats push for arms control language in defense policy bill What the gun safety debate says about Washington Senators ask for committee vote on 'red flag' bills after shootings MORE (D-R.I.) and Sen. Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsOvernight Health Care: Insurance lobby chief calls Biden, Sanders health plans 'similarly bad' | Trump officials appeal drug price disclosure ruling | Study finds 1 in 7 people ration diabetes medicine due to cost Collins downplays 2020 threat: 'Confident' reelection would go well if she runs Cook Political Report moves Susan Collins Senate race to 'toss up' MORE (R-Maine), comes weeks after the Supreme Court paved the way for President TrumpDonald John TrumpThe Hill's Campaign Report: Democratic field begins to shrink ahead of critical stretch To ward off recession, Trump should keep his mouth and smartphone shut Trump: 'Who is our bigger enemy,' Fed chief or Chinese leader? MORE to begin implementing a ban on transgender military service.

“President Trump’s ban on transgender service members is discrimination, it undermines our military readiness, and it is an insult to the brave and patriotic transgender Americans who choose to serve in our military,” Gillibrand, an Armed Service Committee member, said in a statement. “We should end this discriminatory ban for good and ensure our transgender service members can continue to do their jobs, serve with dignity, and protect our country.”

In January, the Supreme Court ruled 5-4 to stay two district court orders that blocked Trump’s policy from taking effect. The ruling allows the administration to temporarily enforce its restrictions on transgender people serving in the military.

The new policy still has not taken effect, though, because of one remaining injunction placed on it by a federal district court in Maryland.

Gillibrand, Reed, Collins and the late Sen. John McCainJohn Sidney McCainCindy McCain says no one in Republican Party carries 'voice of reason' after husband's death Anti-gun violence organization endorses Kelly's Senate bid McCain's family, McCain Institute to promote #ActsOfCivility in marking first anniversary of senator's death MORE (R-Ariz.) introduced similar legislation in 2017, when Trump first announced his policy.

Trump first announced over Twitter in July 2017 that he intended to ban all transgender people from serving in the military.

Then-Defense Secretary James MattisJames Norman MattisOnly Donald Trump has a policy for Afghanistan New Pentagon report blames Trump troop withdrawal for ISIS surge in Iraq and Syria Mattis returns to board of General Dynamics MORE later released a policy in March 2018 that would allow transgender people to do so in their biological sex.

Transgender people and their advocates argued the policy was still effectively a ban akin to the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy for gay, lesbian and bisexual service members.

The bill introduced Thursday would prohibit the Pentagon from discharging any currently serving member of the military solely on the basis of gender identity. It would also say that recruits cannot be denied entry into the military solely based on their gender identity.

“There are thousands of transgender Americans serving in our Armed Forces today with courage, honor, and distinction,” Reed said in a statement. “We must not allow bigotry to impede our military’s critical mission.”

In her own statement, Collins added that “if individuals are willing to put on the uniform of our country and risk their lives for our freedoms, then we should be expressing our gratitude to them, not trying to kick them out of the military.”

A companion bill was introduced in the House by Rep. Jackie SpeierKaren (Jackie) Lorraine Jacqueline SpeierScaramucci compares Trump to Jonestown cult leader: 'It's like a hostage crisis inside the White House' Epstein death sparks questions for federal government Overnight Defense: Senate fails to override Trump veto on Saudi arms sales | Two US troops killed in Afghanistan | Senators tee up nominations, budget deal ahead of recess MORE (D-Calif.) with Reps. Joseph Kennedy (D-Mass.), John KatkoJohn Michael KatkoRepublicans should get behind the 28th Amendment Student loan borrowers are defaulting yearly — how can we fix it? Overnight Defense: Woman accusing general of sexual assault willing to testify | Joint Chiefs pick warns against early Afghan withdrawal | Tensions rise after Iran tries to block British tanker MORE (R-N.Y.), Susan DavisSusan Carol DavisSupporting the military means supporting military spouses Sinema, Gallagher fastest lawmakers in charity race Republican's campaign accused of racism for referring to Palestinian opponent as a 'national security threat' MORE (D-Calif.) and Anthony BrownAnthony Gregory BrownAssault weapons ban picks up steam in Congress Here are the 95 Democrats who voted to support impeachment The Hill's Morning Report — Trump retreats on census citizenship question MORE (D-Md) co-sponsoring the measure.

The bill is unlikely to go anywhere in the Republican-controlled Senate, but could get traction in the Democratic-controlled House.

It also serves as a statement from Gillibrand as she revs up her presidential campaign. Gillibrand invited a transgender service member to Trump’s State of the Union address Tuesday night, and last year she questioned each of the military’s service chiefs on whether allowing open service from transgender people has caused any problems with unit cohesion, morale or discipline. 

“The heads of the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, and Coast Guard have all testified to Congress that transgender service members are serving in our military without any problems,” she said in Thursday’s statement. “I urge my colleagues in Congress to fight with me to overturn the President’s cruel and unnecessary ban, respect the transgender troops who are willing to die for our country, and pass this bipartisan bill now.”