Tonight, OutServe-SLDN and the American Military Partner Association (AMPA) issued the following statements in response to Rep. Vicky Hartzler’s (R-MO) attempts to add an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) that would rip away medically necessary health care for transgender service members and military dependents. After failing to amend the bill to ban transgender service members during markup before the House Armed Services Committee, Rep. Hartzler has proposed a new amendment to the NDAA which would bar access to transition-related health care for military service members and their families. The House Rules Committee is allowing a vote on the amendment tonight.
"We unequivocally condemn Harztler’s attempt at this amendment," said Executive Director of OutServe-SLDN, Matt Thorn. "This amendment is a mean-spirited, unconstitutional attempt to impede the recruitment of openly transgender individuals who want to serve their country. Transgender service members have been serving, openly and authentically, since October 2016 with no impact on readiness. Yet Rep. Hartzler imagines it proper to deny those individuals the opportunity to serve. Hartzler is not the Secretary of Defense and her comments about trans service members being akin to ISIS is unpatriotic in the extreme."
Thorn continued, “The Hartzler Amendment does nothing to support the lethality and readiness of our troops. Instead, it will hamper the military’s efforts to recruit the most qualified individuals who have expressed a desire to honorably and capably serve the country. There’s no reason for this Amendment; we already tried Don’t Ask Don’t Tell and rightfully decided it was bad policy.”
“To be clear, this vile amendment is a vicious attack on service members who are sacrificing so much and putting their lives on the line for our country,” said AMPA President Ashley Broadway-Mack. “As if that’s not outrageous enough, it would also rip away the medically necessary health care of transgender family members. This is vitally important care that military families are already receiving, and these medical decisions should be left to medical professionals and their patients. This legislative assault on military families absolutely must be stopped. We urge members of Congress to reject this cruel proposal.”
Since October 2016, it has been the policy of the Department of Defense to allow transgender members of the armed forces to serve openly and authentically. Each service branch has been charged with defining its own policies related to the accession of new recruits who are openly transgender, and these policies are expected to be announced on January 1, 2018. Estimates show there are more than 15,500 transgender individuals currently serving in the armed services.