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Rep Speier Introduces Bipartisan, Bicameral Legislation to Allow Transgender Individuals to Openly Join and Serve in the Military

February 7, 2019
Press Release

Washington, DC – Today, Congresswoman Jackie Speier (D-CA) was joined by Reps. Joseph Kennedy (D-MA), John Katko (R-NY), Susan Davis (D-CA), and Anthony Brown (D-MD) in introducing H.R. 1032, bipartisan legislation protecting the rights of transgender individuals who are qualified and meet standards to join and also serve openly in the armed services. The bill introduction follows on the heels of a Supreme Court decision that allowed the Department of Defense to implement President Trump’s discriminatory ban on open transgender service. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand has introduced companion legislation in the U.S. Senate.

“Our transgender servicemembers put their lives on the line every day despite an ill-advised edict from the President,” said Congresswoman Speier, Chair of the House Armed Services Military Personnel Subcommittee. “This bill makes it clear to our brave transgender troops that we see them and that we honor the risks they take and sacrifices that they and their families make for the safety of our country. It’s also solid common sense. The President’s ban is not only hateful and un-American, it harms military readiness and morale and ultimately makes our country less strong.”

“Without caveat or condition, American servicemembers put their lives on the line to keep the rest of us safe,” said Congressman Kennedy, Chairman of the Transgender Equality Task Force. “They all deserve the same loyalty in return. Instead, President Trump’s ban on transgender troops makes a mockery of that sacrifice and a political ploy of something that should supersede party lines — our collective commitment to keep this country safe and free. By passing this legislation, we can ensure that the civil rights of our servicemembers cannot be infringed by an intolerant President.”

“Transgender servicemembers have and are serving with honor, distinction, and courage," said Congresswoman Susan Davis. "No evidence has been presented to warrant a ban, which is based solely on discrimination. Our servicemembers should be focused on the singular objective of protecting Americans. This ban will only serve as a disruptive distraction of that effort.”

“The President’s bigoted decision to ban transgender Americans from serving in the military, carries with it echoes of some of the most ignorant, intolerant moments in our history that saw women, black Americans, gays and lesbians barred from fully participating in our Armed Forces,” said Congressman Anthony Brown. “Transgender servicemembers are serving honorably right now, and their service should neither be undermined nor diminished. I’m proud to join my colleagues in standing on the right side of history by introducing this legislation that aligns with my deepest belief: that any patriotic American who is fit to serve should be afforded the opportunity to serve and sacrifice for our country.”

"Qualified transgender service member and enlistees willing to serve their country should have their service respected and protected," said HRC National Press Secretary Sarah McBride. "Since Donald Trump's first tweets, a bipartisan chorus of members of Congress, national security experts and an overwhelming majority of Americans have made clear their opposition to this unconstitutional policy. This critical legislation would help ensure that transgender troops are judged on their merits and not their gender identity -- and we thank Representatives Speier, Katko, Davis, Brown, and Kennedy for fighting for transgender service members."

“We’re deeply grateful to Representatives Speier, Katko, Davis, Brown, and Kennedy for their leadership on this issue. Around the world, more than 15,000 brave transgender servicemembers are serving our country with honor. They’re risking everything — often far away from their families and loved ones — to keep us safe. The very least we can do is thank them for their service and sacrifice and treat them with the same dignity and respect afforded to every other member of the armed forces. If the White House won’t put our national security and fundamental values of equality and fairness ahead of partisan politics, then we hope Congress will,” said Rick Zbur, Executive Director of Equality California, the organizational plaintiff in the lawsuit Stockman v Trump.

“This bill reflects the scientific consensus established by the research and experience of the U.S. military, foreign militaries, and health and security experts: Inclusive service promotes military readiness and national security,” said Aaron Belkin, Director of the Palm Center.

"We applaud Representatives Speier, Katko, Davis, Brown, and Kennedy for their unwavering support of our transgender military community" said OutServe-SLDN Executive Director Andy Blevins. "For the last two-and-a-half years, these selfless patriots have proven time and again that they are not only qualified to accomplish the mission, but that our Armed Forces are more efficient and more effective because of their authenticity. We must ensure baseless and discriminatory rationalizations not be allowed to define military policy and make open and authentic service a reality for all qualified and willing individuals."

"This bill is urgently needed to protect the thousands of transgender servicemembers who could be discarded or forced to serve in silence and fear,” said Mara Keisling, Executive Director of the National Center for Transgender Equality. “Despite this President's dangerous attempt to institute prejudice and bigotry into our armed forces, the American people know such irrational bias has no place in the military. We thank Representatives Speier, Katko, Davis, Brown, and Kennedy for leading this historic measure and we urge every Member of Congress to back this bill as the necessary and moral thing to do."

“We must fight the Trump administration's effort to implement their discriminatory and unconstitutional ban on military service by transgender people on all fronts. This new bipartisan legislation would stop this bigoted ban once and for all,” said Ian Thompson, Senior Legislative Representative, American Civil Liberties Union. “Transgender service members, like those represented by the ACLU in our legal challenge, have proven that they have the courage and capacity to serve in our nation’s armed forces. Members of Congress who oppose this ban must act to make sure the administration cannot implement it.”

“Lambda Legal is so appreciative of Rep. Speier and the other champions who are spearheading this important legislation to ensure that transgender service members are treated equally,” said Sharon McGowan, Legal Director and Chief Strategy Officer of Lambda Legal. “Transgender military personnel are meeting every rigorous military standard that is required of all service members and have done so for more than two and half years. Service members should be judged based on whether they can satisfy the nation’s military service requirements, not who they are or who they love. This legislation will help ensure that transgender service members who are otherwise qualified can continue serving our country without fear of discrimination.”

“This bill affirms that anyone who meets military standards should be able to serve their country. We appreciate that Congress is stepping in to protect our troops,” said Jennifer Levi, Transgender Rights Project director of GLBTQ Legal Advocates & Defenders.

“We applaud Congress for recognizing that all service members deserve our nation’s gratitude and respect,” said Shannon Minter, legal director of the National Center for Lesbian Rights.

A copy of Rep. Speier’s bill text can be found here.

 

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