Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-NY, and Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, have introduced an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act that would block President Donald Trump’s transgender service ban. The defense spending bill is on the Senate floor this week, but whether their amendment will get a hearing isn’t certain.
“Any individual who wants to join our military and meets the standards should be allowed to serve, period,” Gillibrand said in a statement. “Gender identity should have nothing to do with it.”
Collins was the lead Republican in the fight to end Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.
Trump announced his transgender ban in a July tweet, intending to reverse a 2016 Obama administration policy that ended the ban on service by transgender men and women. The Trump policy prevents new trans recruits from joining the military and gives Defense Secretary James Mattis six months to study the issue.
What the Trump policy ignores is that the issue has been studied. All branches have trans people serving and their service is not disruptive to military cohesion. After Trump made his announcement, the head of each branch of the U.S. military issued a statement supporting their trans troops.
Sen. John McCain criticized the Trump policy, calling it “a step in the wrong direction.”
In a statement released in July, McCain said, “There is no reason to force service members who are able to fight, train, and deploy to leave the military — regardless of their gender identity.”
The Gillibrand-Collins amendment needs 60 votes to pass, and they have said they don’t know if they have those votes.
– David Taffet