Amid SCOTUS ruling, Senators file bill to protect transgender military service

Matt Saintsing
February 07, 2019 - 3:56 pm

Photo by Halle Thornton

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Senators introduced legislation that would protect currently serving transgender service members and allow new trans recruits to join the military.

The bill, proposed on Thursday, comes just days after several members of Congress brought transgender service members as their guests to the State of the Union address, and two weeks after the Supreme Court allowed President Donald Trump’s transgender military ban to temporarily be put in place as four lawsuits challenging the ban move ahead. 

RELATED: SCOTUS: Transgender ban goes forward as legal fights proceed

Sens. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Susan Collins (R-Maine), and Jack Reed (D-R.I.) introduced the bill. 

“President Trump’s ban on transgender service members is discrimination, it undermines our military readiness, and it is an insult to the brave and patriotic transgender Americans who choose to serve in our military,” Gillibrand said in a statement. 

“We should end this discriminatory ban for good and ensure our transgender service members can continue to do their jobs, serve with dignity, and protect our country.”

The heads of each military branch told lawmakers last April they see no harm to units with transgender troops.

Collins added that she “strongly believe that anyone who is qualified, able to be deployed into war zones, and wants to serve should continue to be allowed to do so, including out transgender troops.” 

The bill would also prohibit the Pentagon from involuntarily separate, or deny the reenlistment or continuation of service in the military for any currently serving transgender service members. Future recruits would not be denied entrance into the military on the basis of their gender identity. 

“There are thousands of transgender Americans serving in our Armed Forces today with courage, honor, and distinction,” said Reed, a graduate of the United States Military Academy at West Point and ranking member of the Senate Armed Services Committee. 

“We must not allow bigotry to impede our military’s critical mission.”

Trump surprised even top military in July 2017commanders when he reversed the Pentagon’s policy allowing open transgender military service. 

Four lawsuits were filed challenging the ban, lower courts in all of them issued injunctions blocking the policy from going forward while the legal cases process. But the Supreme Court handed the administration a win by allowing the ban to be temporarily allowed. 

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