House LGBT Caucus Denounces Rep. Hartzler’s Anti-Transgender Amendment to Defense Bill


Congressional LGBT Equality Caucus denounced Rep. Vicky Hartzler’s amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2018 banning transgender service members from receiving medically necessary medical care relating to their transition.  Earlier tonight, the House Rules Committee voted to allow a floor vote on Rep. Hartzler’s amendment.

“Rep. Hartzler’s misguided amendment effectively bans patriotic transgender Americans from serving their country in uniform,” said LGBT Equality Caucus Co-Chair Rep. Mark Pocan (WI-02).  “The defense bill is supposed to be about how to best keep our country safe.  Decisions about medical care should be made by doctors based on contemporary medical standards of care—not Congress.  If any service member isn’t able to access the health care doctors determine is needed, that harms readiness.  I trust our colleagues will reject this hateful attack on the transgender community.”

On June 30, 2016, then-Defense Secretary Ash Carter lifted the ban on transgender persons serving openly in the military.  The policy change was implemented in stages, with the final stage—removing the ban on transgender people acceding into the services—scheduled to be implemented on January 1, 2018.  Transgender people already serving are currently able to serve openly.

“Bigotry is the last thing this country should offer any brave man or woman who volunteers to defend us,” said Rep. Joe Kennedy III (MA-04), Chair of the Transgender Equality Task Force.  “By inserting Congress into the personal medical decisions of certain service members, this amendment tells thousands of Americans willing to pay the ultimate sacrifice that they are not entitled to the same rights as the soldier they stand next to. Transgender Americans, in uniform or not, deserve better than this hateful amendment from those elected to represent them.”

In 2015, the Department of Defense commissioned the RAND Corporation to conduct a study on the impact of lifting the ban on transgender service.  RAND’s year-long, wide-ranging and comprehensive study found that open service has “little or no impact on unit cohesion, operational effectiveness, or readiness.”  RAND’s study also found that the cost of transition-related health care would only be a 0.04% increase in active-component health care expenditures for coverage of transgender service members.

“Transgender service members are not asking for any ‘special’ rights, they simply want to serve their country,” said LGBT Equality Caucus Executive Director Roddy Flynn.  “Rep. Hartzler’s amendment specifically targets transgender people for exclusion from certain kinds of medical care available to cisgender service members.  For example, under the Hartzler amendment, hormone treatment is banned only if the patient is transgender.  Cisgender service members could take hormones for birth control, to treat a gynecological condition, or other conditions requiring hormone replacement therapy; but it is uniquely banned for transgender people.”

Current estimates from the Palm Center indicate there are over 15,000 transgender servicemembers currently serving in the U.S. armed forces, including 8,800 in the active component and 6,650 in the National Guard and reserve components.

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