U.S. Representatives Introduce Bipartisan Legislation to Protect Transgender Servicemembers
Washington, DC — U.S. Representatives Jackie Speier (CA-14), Charlie Dent (PA-15), Susan Davis (CA-53), Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (FL-27), Adam Smith (WA-09), and Kyrsten Sinema (AZ-09) today announced the introduction of H.R. 4041, a bipartisan bill to protect transgender members of the U.S. military by preventing the Department of Defense (DoD) from removing currently serving members of the Armed Forces based solely on their gender identity. Transgender troops have been openly serving in the military since June 2016. This legislation is the House companion bill to S. 1820, introduced last month by Senators Kirsten Gillibrand, John McCain, Jack Reed, and Susan Collins.
“Kicking out members of the United States Armed Services solely based on their gender identity is hateful, discriminatory, and on the wrong side of history,” said Congresswoman Jackie Speier. “News flash, Mr. President – thousands of transgender troops already serve our country with pride and dignity. Our military should be focused on recruiting and retaining the best troops, not on rejecting qualified service members on the basis of discrimination.”
“I stood proudly with the previous administration when we lifted the ban on ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,’” said Congresswoman Susan Davis. “Many of the arguments against transgender servicemembers are the same we have heard for gay servicemembers, and the same we heard for women before that. Transgender servicemembers have and are serving with honor, distinction, and courage. 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.”
“Congress' intention with the repeal of Don't Ask Don't Tell was to allow our brave servicemembers to openly serve in our armed forces without fear of being discriminated against,” said Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen. “The decision by the Administration to not allow transgender individuals to serve in the military is a sad reminder of the dark chapters in our nation's history that should never be repeated. The courts have usually been forced to adjudicate what constitutes discrimination but once again Congress is saying: no more. Any patriot, as long as they are qualified to serve, should have the ability to, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity. These individuals are willing to sacrifice their lives for our freedom, a freedom that they should also be able to enjoy.’
“I cannot begin to stress how utterly immoral it would be for brave men and women who are currently serving in the U.S. military to be kicked out, and lose their careers, purely because of discrimination,” said Congressman Adam Smith, Ranking Member of the House Armed Services Committee. “This bipartisan legislation would prevent that kind of mindless discriminatory purge, and it is an important step toward reversing President Trump’s ban on transgender military service. We will continue to fight so that all individuals who are willing and able can volunteer in defense of their country.”
“Any American willing to risk his or her life to protect and serve our country deserves our gratitude and support,” said Congresswoman Kyrsten Sinema. “I’m proud to work with this bipartisan, bicameral group of lawmakers, including Arizona’s Senator John McCain, in standing with our military.”
Specifically, the legislation would:
· Express a sense of Congress that individuals who are qualified and can meet the standards to serve in the military should be eligible to serve;
· Prohibit DoD from involuntarily separating, or denying the reenlistment or continuation in service in the Armed Forces of currently serving transgender service members solely on the basis of the servicemember’s gender identity; and
· Require Secretary Mattis to complete his review of accession of transgender individuals into the Armed Forces by the end of this year and report the results to Congress.
A copy of the bill text can be found here.