On Thursday, the U.S. House of Representatives approved an amendment to the fiscal 2021 Department of Defense appropriations bill that would reverse the Trump administration’s restrictions on transgender people serving openly in the U.S. military.
Introduced by Congresswoman Jackie Speier (D-Calif.), the chairwoman of the House Armed Services Military Personnel Subcommittee, the amendment would prohibit the use of federal funds to enforce the Pentagon’s policy prohibiting transgender individuals from serving according to their gender identity.
Under the policy, a transgender person may only serve if they have not been diagnosed with gender dysphoria or do not attempt to undergo gender confirmation surgery. They must remain in their assigned sex at birth and must meet all requirements and conform to standards of dress based on that assigned sex.
Openly transgender recruits are outright rejected, and a few individuals who transitioned under the Obama administration’s “open service” policy have been grandfathered in. The policy permits additional waivers, but critics claim that they are rarely granted.
“The military has granted only one waiver to a transgender service member, exposing the President’s discriminatory policy for what it is — a virtual ban on military service by brave transgender Americans,” Speier said in a statement, according to CQ Roll Call.
Speier introduced a similar amendment to the 2020 fiscal year defense authorization bill that was adopted by the House, but ultimately stripped out of the final bill in conference committee due to opposition from Republican-controlled Senate.
The overall bill passed on a largely party-line vote on Thursday, with a handful of conservative Democrats and another handful of the House’s more liberal members dissenting, albeit for different reasons.
As reported by CQ Roll Call, the White House released a 28-page statement on Thursday threatening to veto the defense bill if some of the amendments that were approved via voice vote, targeting 19 specific provisions to which President Trump objects.
Those amendments include provisions to decrease the authority of the Pentagon to transfer funds to other programs that were not specifically appropriated by Congress, prohibit the construction of President Trump’s border wall, prohibit live nuclear tests, require military bases bearing the names of Confederate generals to be renamed, and restrict the use of military force against Iran.
However, the Trump administration may also choose to lean on its allies in Congress to push for removal of Speier’s amendment, as well as other potentially problematic amendments that, while not specifically mentioned in the White House’s list, run counter to the administration’s current policies.
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