Congress has defeated an attempt to prohibit the military from providing or covering medical treatment such as hormones or gender confirmation surgery for active transgender military members.
The amendment, pushed by U.S. Rep. Vicky Hartzler (R-Mo.), was approved in committee but defeated by a vote of 214-209, with 24 Republicans voting with all Democrats to defeat it.
“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. “This dangerous amendment would have put at risk the health and wellbeing of military families, and threatened military readiness and national security.
“We applaud those members from both parties who stood up for the thousands of transgender service members proudly serving their country.”
Hartzler previously offered — and withdrew — an amendment to outright ban transgender service members from openly serving. Currently, the military branches allow current transgender service members to serve openly, but the Defense Department has delayed by six months the deadline by which the various branches were expected to begin allowing new transgender recruits.
HRC notes that Hartzler has used unsubstantiated figures to inflate transition-related health care costs for transgender service members. A RAND Corporation study commissioned by the Pentagon found costs of covering transition-related health care are relatively low.
That backs up an earlier study from 2015, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, which found that such costs would be “negligible” and would represent a tiny portion of the military’s billion-dollar budget.
Earlier in the day, HRC hosted a press call with stakeholders and pro-LGBTQ military groups. HRC’s Director of Government Affairs, David Stacy, had promised that if the amendment managed to pass the House, LGBTQ advocates would work with their allies in the Senate to make sure the amendment failed.
In case the Senate chose to approve the amendment, OutServe-SLDN Executive Director Matt Thorn promised that they would pursue legal action to have the amendment declared unconstitutional in the courts.
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