Republicans in the US House are trying to add an amendment to the national defense authorization bill to strip away medical rights for trans people in the military.
This means that trans recruits, whether they are in the midst of transitioning, have completed their transition and are now maintaining, or are initiating a transition once in the service, would be denied coverage for their medical treatment.
The close vote nonetheless underscored the zeal with which a number of Republicans are seizing opportunities to reverse what they cast as President Barack Obama's social engineering of the armed forces. "This current policy of providing and paying for transgender surgeries hurts readiness". She made this assertion without providing any evidence how being trans might affect ones' ability to carry out the physical and mental strain of being in the military.
But Hartzler felt otherwise, and her amendment was accepted late Wednesday evening by House Republicans who determine the rules for debating legislation.
The ACLU sent a letter to Congress calling the amendment a "discriminatory, unconstitutional attack".
In 2016, then-Defense Secretary Ash Carter ended the ban on transgender people being able to serve openly in the military.
The Wisconsin Republican said he wants to Defense Secretary James Mattis on the issue even though Ryan backs an amendment that would effectively override the Pentagon's decision on service by transgender troops.
The Republican-led House narrowly rejected a measure on Thursday that sought to strike an Obama-era practice of requiring the Pentagon to pay for gender transition surgeries and hormone therapy.
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Rep. Hartzler attempted to prevent any transgender people from serving in the military at all. This had negative implications for our nation's military readiness.
"Military service is a privilege, not a right", she said last month.
The amendment was immediately blasted by military LGBT groups, who said it was "cruel" to deny such health benefits to Americans serving in the military.
Transgender service members have been able to serve openly in the military since previous year, when former Defense Secretary Ash Carter ended the ban. LGBT military groups OutServe-SLDN and the American Military Partner Association called it a "vicious attack" created to block transgender people from enlisting for service at all by denying them basic health care. 'This legislative assault on military families absolutely must be stopped.
"At a time when we should be focusing on the threats from North Korea, and Putin, and ISIS, we're having to deal with a threat here at home - a domestic threat - of allowing transgenders.in our service, which is a real problem because it impacts their readiness, and it's a huge cost for our military", Hartzler said. The costs of providing them with gender transition-related medical care are relatively low: RAND estimates 30 to 140 people would seek new hormone treatments per year, and 25 to 130 would seek gender transition-related surgeries.
Democrats, for whom the LGBT community is a major constituent, opposed the amendment on grounds that all Americans should have a chance to serve and receive medical treatment. However, transgender people are not now allowed to join the military.
Rep. Adam Smith of Washington, the Armed Services Committee's top Democrat said, "This amendment takes us in the wrong direction ..."