- The Magazine
On Thursday, the U.S. House of Representatives approved an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act that would allow transgender individuals who meet all other physical, educational, and mental health standards to serve in the U.S. military.
The amendment passed 242-187, with 10 Republicans voting with Democrats in support of transgender military service.
It incorporated much of the language from Truman’s order — including that “there shall be equality of treatment and opportunity for all persons in the armed services” without regard to personal characteristics — while adding sex, gender identity, and sexual orientation to the list of protected classes.
The vote in favor of the amendment is an act of direct defiance against the Trump administration, which has fought for the past two years to limit transgender participation in the military.
Under the so-called “Mattis Plan,” named after former Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, transgender individuals may only enlist or serve in the U.S. military if they have not been diagnosed with gender dysphoria and remain in (and present according to grooming standards for) their assigned sex at birth.
Prior to the vote, the Modern Military Association of America, an advocacy group for LGBTQ service members, released a letter sent to members of Congress urging them to support the Speier Amendment.
The letter was signed by a number of prominent military and national security leaders and organizations, including Blue Star Families; former Navy Secretary Ray Mabus; former Army Secretary Eric Fanning; retired Rear Admiral Alan Steinman, the former Director of Health and Safety for the U.S. Coast Guard; Suzanne Nossel, a former deputy assistant Secretary of State; and Ben Rhodes, a former deputy National Security Advisor to President Barack Obama and co-chair of National Security Action, along with Jake Sullivan, a former National Security Advisor to Vice President Joe Biden, who is also among the letter’s signatories.
An estimated 15,000 transgender troops were active duty members of the Armed Forces when the Mattis Plan went into effect in April.
The Pentagon has not published any information regarding the number of service members who have been discharged or denied commissions as a result of the new policy.
Last month, the Senate passed its own version of the NDAA without any provisions challenging the administration’s current policy on transgender service.
After the House passes its version, the bill will go to a Conference Committee to reconcile the differences between the versions of the bill. It is at this point that the amendment could remain intact or could be removed from the bill.
Even though hopes for the Speier Amendment’s successful adoption by the Conference Committee seem dim, LGBTQ advocates praised its passage by the House.
“This is a crucial moment for our elected officials to bring accountability to a reckless and lawless policy,” Mara Keisling, the executive director of the National Center for Transgender Equality, said in a statement. “This bigoted ban has brought chaos to prospective recruits, active duty service members, and countless families forced to watch their dedication and duty soiled by a self-interested President.
“The military wants and needs qualified transgender people, and we applaud this action by the House to ensure that every person willing and able to serve is allowed to serve,” she added. “It will now be up to the Conference Committee and the President whether to embrace equal opportunity or discrimination.”
“We applaud the leadership shown by bipartisan members of Congress in their efforts to reverse this policy which turns away qualified, dedicated Americans who want to serve their country,” said Jennifer Levi, the director of the Transgender Rights Project at GLBTQ Legal Advocates & Defenders, which is suing the administration in court over the “Mattis Plan,’ which advocates argue essentially constitutes a ban.
“Diversity is an asset to our institutions and that includes the U.S. military. We’ve seen this hold true time and again — through desegregation, the integration of women, and the end of ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,'” added Shannon Minter, legal director for the National Center for Lesbian Rights, which is also suing the administration on behalf of transgender service members and recruits. “Allowing transgender people to serve on equal terms in our nation’s military will only make our military and our nation stronger.”
A 20-year-old transgender woman was shot and killed inside her apartment in Suitland, Maryland, on the evening of Saturday, July 18.
Prince George's County Police responded to a report of a shooting in the 2300 block of Brooks Drive, near the Sussex Square Apartment complex, around 9:55 p.m. They arrived to find Taya Ashton suffering from a gunshot wound in her apartment. She was pronounced dead at the scene.
According to a press release from the Prince George's County Police Department, detectives are working to identify suspects and determine a motive for the crime. Based on the preliminary investigation, they do not believe the crime was random, but have also uncovered no evidence suggesting that Ashton was killed due to her gender identity.
Virginia Del. Danica Roem, the nation's first openly transgender state legislator, perfectly responded to a troll by using his anti-trans hate to raise funds for her reelection campaign.
Someone by the name of Joe messaged the Manassas, Va., lawmaker to tell her, "No such thing as trans gender . Only delusional people with mental disorders."
Rather than ignore the troll, Roem instead opted to use his hatred against him.
"Dear Joe," Roem replied, "Thank you so much for your message -- not for the message itself but for your decision to send it to me because I'm going to screenshot our conversation thread here, post it to my Twitter page and use it to raise money for my re-election campaign."
Police in New York City are investigating a possible hate crime after a transgender woman was stabbed with a screwdriver by a man while riding the subway.
The incident happened just before 12:30 p.m. at the Broadway and Fulton Street subway station in Lower Manhattan.
The victim, Nina Grey, entered the station and boarded the southbound A train, when the suspect made an anti-gay comment while holding a screwdriver in his hand.
"As soon as I took my seat, in that split second I was being called a trans," Grey told WABC.
The man lunged at her with the screwdriver as the train pulled into the Fulton Street stop.
These are challenging times for news organizations. And yet it’s crucial we stay active and provide vital resources and information to both our local readers and the world. So won’t you please take a moment and consider supporting Metro Weekly with a membership? For as little as $5 a month, you can help ensure Metro Weekly magazine and MetroWeekly.com remain free, viable resources as we provide the best, most diverse, culturally-resonant LGBTQ coverage in both the D.C. region and around the world. Memberships come with exclusive perks and discounts, your own personal digital delivery of each week’s magazine (and an archive), access to our Member's Lounge when it launches this fall, and exclusive members-only items like Metro Weekly Membership Mugs and Tote Bags! Check out all our membership levels here and please join us today!