House Rejects Ban on Transition-Related Health Coverage for Transgender Troops

"This was a horrifying, vicious attack on service members and military family members, and our families were beside themselves in fear", said AMPA President Ashley Broadway-Mack.

The U.S. House is set to vote Thursday on an amendment that would bar transgender people from receiving transition-related health care, such as gender reassignment surgery.

Rep. Adam Smith (D-WA) said during the floor debate that the amendment would take the military in the "wrong direction", and would unfairly target one group of people.

Transgender troops were unable to serve openly in the military until June 2016, and could not receive medical care or formally change their gender identity through the Pentagon until October 2016.

"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".

Hartzler's argument is purportedly based on Trans Americans ability to serve, comparing the "affliction" of being transgender to medical issues like flat feet, asthma, and bunions. "It should be overwhelmingly rejected by members of the House of Representatives".

"This is a major surgery that requires a medical diagnosis that will render a person non-deployable", Hartzer said. The defense bill, which authorizes up to $696 billion in 2018 military spending, is expected to come to a final vote Friday.

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John Woodworth / robertharding / Getty Images (WASHINGTON) - Democrats were enraged Thursday by an amendment to the defense authorization bill that would prohibit the Department of Defense from using any government money to provide medical treatment related to gender transition.

A report by Rand Corporation estimated that as many as 6,600 transgender troops were actively serving by August, and a maximum of 140 sought gender affirmation-related treatments. "It is created to throw transgender service members out of the military".

Despite the amendment's defeat, it isn't the last opportunity Hartzler will have to try to hold back transgender inclusion, either through floor amendments or separate legislation, prior to the end of the additional six-month review process.

Sarah McBride, spokesperson for the LGBT lobby group Human Rights Campaign, reported, "If only three Members of Congress had voted yes instead [i.e., FOR the measure denying taxpayer funding to the Pentagon for transsexual "sex reassignment surgeries"], this risky and discriminatory anti-transgender amendment would have passed".

"Republicans should be ashamed: instead of protecting the men and women who risk their lives to defend our freedoms, they are fighting to rip away the health care of thousands of fearless service members", Pelosi said in a statement.

Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer, D-Md., called the amendment a form of discrimination and bigotry "which had no other goal but to denigrate transgender men and women who serve our country". "We need every defense dollar to go to meeting those threats, not anything else, and we need to make sure our troops are ready and can be deployed".

The RAND Corporation previous year found all medical costs for transgender service members would be about $2.4 million to $8.4 million annually.

  • Regina Walsh