House Passes Defense Spending Bill with Transgender Caveats

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by Martina Moyski  •  •  August 5, 2020   

Dems challenge Trump's priorities

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WASHINGTON ( - The U.S. House of Representatives has approved a military spending bill that could reverse President Trump's ban on transgenders serving in the military. 

Rep. Jackie Speier

By a vote of 217–197 on Friday, the House passed a massive $1.3 trillion appropriations package, which included an amendment that would block funding for the Pentagon's latest transgender troop policy. The amendment was put forth by Rep. Jackie Speier (D-Calif.).

The move represents a recent tactic by lawmakers to challenge President Trump's priorities, particularly his policy that bans transgenders from the military, by adding amendments to bills the president might otherwise find attractive.

Trump announced in July 2017 his intent to ban transgenders in the military. In March 2019, the administration's instructions regarding military service by transgender persons and persons with gender dysphoria became effective. These instructions reversed the Obama-era policy allowing transgender individuals to serve openly in the military and have access to gender-affirming medical and psychological care.

The instructions stated that "service in the military services is open to all persons who can meet the high standards for military service and readiness without special accommodations."


They further clarified that "A history of gender dysphoria is disqualifying, unless, as certified by a licensed mental health provider, the applicant has been stable without clinically significant distress or impairment in social, occupational or other important areas of functioning for 18 months."

According to Politico, Trump's policy requires soldiers "diagnosed with gender dysphoria to serve in their biological sex." 

Numerous reasons for the ban have been put forth.

President Trump cited the "tremendous medical costs" involved with accommodating transgender lifestyles, including ongoing hormone therapy and gender reassignment surgeries. 

The majority of transgender people already deal with emotional issues. They do not belong in a place where mental strength is absolutely critical. 

Others gave emotional reasons. "The emotional stress and fatigue of training and combat is already extremely difficult on the most mentally fit man," said a former four-year member of the Army's 75th Ranger Regiment. "The majority of [transgender people] already deal with emotional issues. They do not belong in a place where mental strength is absolutely critical." 

The Williams Institute

The Williams Institute estimates 46% of self-identified trans men and 42% of self-identified trans women attempt suicide.

A Marine Corps trainee argued, "The purpose of the military is to be a fighting force, not a place for social experimentation." "It adds a whole layer of unnecessary complexities that can become costly," he noted.

Trump's reversal of Obama's order has been met with disapproval.

For example, the San Francisco-based Palm Center, which conducts research on sexual minorities in the military, stated, "The policy is insidious in operation."

"It is a perfect parallel to the failed 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' policy, also sold as not being a ban although designed to systemically push gay people out of military service — or at least keep them silent and invisible."

Amendments being considered for addition to another military spending bill include provisions that would challenge President Trump's opposition to changing names of military bases honoring Confederate figures and cut off funding for a troop withdrawal from Germany.

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