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Congress Should Reject This Unconstitutional Amendment Denying Care to Transgender Service Members and Their Families

Trans Flag Building
Trans Flag Building
Brian Tashman,
Former Deputy Division Director,
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July 13, 2017

Update: Victory! The Hartzler Amendment was defeated: 214 No, 209 Yes.

The House of Representatives is poised to vote today on an amendment to prohibit transgender military service members and military dependents from receiving appropriate medical care.

The amendment — introduced by Rep. Vicky Hartzler (R-Mo.) to the National Defense Authorization Act, which is the annual defense policy bill — bars the Department of Defense from providing funds towards medical treatment “related to gender transition,” such as hormone therapy.

Hartzler previously offered an amendment — since withdrawn — that would stop the military from enlisting transgender members.

This amendment targets health care services that the nation’s leading medical institutions, including the American Medical Association, agree are medically appropriate and necessary for transgender individuals.

The ACLU is sending a letter to the House today to vote against this discriminatory and unconstitutional amendment. The letter highlights the fact that denying access to care runs counter to scientific evidence and contemporary medical standards. It puts the wellbeing of certain service members at risk, undermining the ability of doctors in the military to adequately care for their patients.

Despite the suggestion that this is just an attempt to reduce spending, the Hartzler amendment is discriminatory, plain and simple. Hartzler made her hostility to transgender people clear when she compared transgender service members to members of ISIS, describing them as a “domestic threat.” She also wrongly — and absurdly — claimed that transition-related care would cost over $1 billion.

Last year, the military officially ended its ban on transgender service, although under the Trump administration it has delayed its acceptance of openly transgender applicants.

According to the Williams Institute, there are over 15,000 transgender individuals serving in active duty or in the Guards or Reserves, and “an estimated 134,000 transgender individuals are veterans or are retired from Guard or Reserve service.”

Transgender troops deserve our respect and support. Congress should reject this cruel and unwarranted attempt to deny necessary care to transgender Americans and harm those serving our country.

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