House rejects proposed denial of sex reassignment surgery to transgender troops

Bill Clark  CQ Roll Call
Bill Clark CQ Roll Call
Author

15 July, 2017

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.

"Drip by drip we have watched our military's focus eroded", Perry said.

"Congresswoman Hartzler's attempt to strip healthcare from service members and their families in a time of war was unpatriotic, unconstitutional, and just plain vile, we are pleased to see that the House of Representatives voted down this amendment", said OutServe-SLDN Executive Director Matt Thorn.

Once the amendment comes to the floor, it will be the first time in history the USA history has considered a measure specifically aimed at rolling back rights for transgender people.

In pushing the amendment, Hartzler also argued that the surgery is "very costly". As it stands, transgender people who are already in the military may serve, but openly transgender recruits are barred from enlisting.

'It puts their health at risk and undermines military readiness by stripping away the ability of medical professionals to ensure their patients have the care they need and deserve, ' said Stephen Peters, HRC National Press Secretary and a Marine veteran.

"This current policy of providing and paying for transgender surgeries hurts readiness and is projected to cost over a billion dollars over the next ten years", she added.

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"Today's strong, bipartisan vote sent a resounding message of support for our military families and transgender service members", Chad Griffin, the president of the Human Rights Campaign, said in a statement.

The full text of the amendment reads, 'Funds available to the Department of Defense may not be used to provide medical treatment (other than mental health treatment) related to gender transition to a person entitled to medical care under chapter 55 of title 10, United States Code'.

Former Secretary of Defense Ash Carter officially repealed the ban on transgenders serving openly in the military in June 2016.

House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., declined to fully endorse Hartzler's amendment while telling reporters it's important for Congress and the Defense Department to work closely together on military transgender policies.

Rep. Jared Polis (D-Colo.), who's gay and co-chair of the LGBT Equality Caucus, offered an amendment during committee to strike the anti-trans measure from the rule, but his effort was defeated by an 8-2 party-line vote. A service member who is able to be open and honest about their gender identity and receive appropriate care is more productive and focused on the mission. Hartzler told CNN she withdrew the original amendment to defer action until Mattis had established his stance on transgender troops. "It is created to throw transgender service members out of the military".

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, California Democrat, called the amendment "appalling" and "mean spirited". Although the committee never voted on the Hartzler amendment, Republican leadership made the amendment in order backstage as part of the rule for floor consideration.

A RAND corporation study commissioned by the Pentagon found cost increases for providing such medically necessary care are minimal.


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