U.S. Sens. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) and Susan Collins (R-Maine) have introduced an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act aimed at halting Trump’s transgender military ban.
The amendment would prevent the Department of Defense from removing qualified service members from the Armed Forces based solely on their gender identity.
It also expresses a sense of the Senate that individuals should be able to serve regardless of their gender identity, and requires Secretary of Defense James Mattis to continue with his review examining the impact of allowing already out transgender individuals to join the military, and report those findings to Congress.
Mattis had previously said that such a review would take place when he delayed by six months the deadline by which the various services were to begin accepting out transgender individuals who had been stable in their gender presentation for at least 18 months.
But that was halted after President Donald Trump announced his intention to ban all transgender individuals from serving in the military, under the guise that their presence hurts morale and the price tag that providing gender confirmation surgery to transgender troops would be cost-prohibitive.
“Any individual who wants to join our military and meets the standards should be allowed to serve, period. Gender identity should have nothing to do with it,” Gillibrand said in a press release. “I am proud to work with Senator Collins to introduce our bipartisan amendment to protect transgender members of our Armed Forces, and I will always fight for our brave transgender troops who put their lives on the line to protect our country.”
“Our Armed Forces should welcome the service of any qualified individual who is willing and capable of serving our country,” Collins added in a statement. “If individuals are willing to put on the uniform of our country, be deployed in war zones, and risk their lives for our freedoms, then we should be expressing our gratitude to them, not trying to exclude them from military service.”
Gillibrand and Collins were among a group of 45 senators who sent a letter to Mattis in July urging him to refrain from discharging transgender service members until an internal Defense Department review is complete.
Both women were also instrumental in pushing for the repeal of the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy, which allowed gay, lesbian, and bisexual individuals to serve openly in the U.S. military.
The Palm Center, a think tank that has long advocated for allowing out LGBTQ people to serve openly in the U.S. military, praised the senators’ amendment, saying it would “prevent uncertainty and disruption” that could occur once Trump’s ban is implemented and would save money that would otherwise be wasted recruiting and training new troops to replace those transgender individuals who were forcibly discharged.
“Media reports have been characterized by misperceptions about what will happen next if Congress fails to take action,” Palm Center Director Aaron Belkin said in a statement. “Secretary Jim Mattis does not have discretion to ignore the President’s order to ban transgender troops and he has not frozen the process.
“Somewhat similar to his DACA directive, President Trump’s transgender policy calls for delayed implementation following a six-month window. The purpose of the delay is not to preserve inclusive policy, but to allow the Pentagon to determine how to transition from its current policy to a ban,” Belkin added. “By taking action to avoid that disruptive and wasteful scenario, Congress would promote military readiness and sustain the well-being of the troops.”
A Florida Republican lawmaker who's mounting a run for Congress has filed legislation that would prosecute doctors who prescribe gender-affirming treatments to transgender children.
The bill, introduced by State Rep. Anthony Sabatini (R-Howey-in-the-Hills), would impose criminal penalties on any medical provider who performs transition-related surgical procedures on minors, as well as those who prescribe hormones or puberty blockers to transgender individuals under age 18.
Those providers found to violate the law would be charged with a first-degree misdemeanor, meaning they could face up to a year in prison or a fine of $1,000.
A federal court has denied a preliminary injunction and class certification in a lawsuit brought by a former prisoner in the D.C. Jail arguing that the D.C. Department of Corrections' policy for housing transgender inmates is unconstitutional. However, the court is allowing the lawsuit to proceed.
On Thursday, Judge John Bates, of U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, denied Sunday Hinton's request for a preliminary injunction to stop the Department of Corrections from enforcing its policy, which requires transgender individuals to be placed in solitary confinement until they can potentially receive housing assignments that match their gender identity. He also denied Hinton's request for class certification, which would have allowed other similarly situated trans women in DOC custody to join the lawsuit.
Colonial Williamsburg is bringing a small part of gay history to life in a special reenactment this fall, with the hope of adding additional LGBTQ programming in the future.
Starting in October, the immersive living-history museum where visitors can experience at what it would have been like to be alive in 18th century Virginia will feature a new musical called Ladies of Llangollen, based on diary entries, letters, and poetry of two women who ran away from Ireland and eloped in Wales during the 18th century -- whose story attracted the attention of Queen Charlotte.
The introduction of LGBTQ content comes after two years during which researchers and historians have been looking through historical records to better understand the history of LGBTQ people living during the colonial period.
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