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Bipartisan Senators, Reps Introduce Bill to Block Trans Ban

Gillibrand Collins Reed

The legislation would circumvent Trump's ban on transgender service members, which SCOTUS allowed to go into effect.


U.S. Sens. Kirsten Gillibrand, Susan Collins, and Jack Reed, (pictured, from left) today introduced legislation to protect transgender military members from discharge and to allow new enlistments by trans Americans.

The legislation comes a few weeks after the Supreme Court ruled that Donald Trump's ban on military service by trans people could go into effect while lawsuits against the ban are heard in lower courts. It's a bipartisan bill -- Gillbrand, of New York, and Reed, of Rhode Island, are Democrats; Collins, of Maine, is a Republican.

The bill, according to a press release from Gillibrand, would "express a sense of Congress that anyone who is qualified and can meet the standards to serve in the military should be eligible to serve, and the Trump Administration's discriminatory ban and policies are inconsistent with this goal; prohibit [the Department of Defense] from involuntarily separating, or denying the reenlistment or continuation of service in the Armed Forces of currently serving transgender service members solely on the basis of the member's gender identity; and state that an individual may not be denied initial enlistment, commissioning, or other accession into the Armed Forces solely on the basis of their gender identity."

Congresswoman Jackie Speier of California has introduced companion legislation in the House of Representatives along with Reps. Joseph Kennedy, John Katko, Susan Davis, and Anthony Brown.

"President Trump's ban on transgender service members is discrimination, it undermines our military readiness, and it is an insult to the brave and patriotic transgender Americans who choose to serve in our military," Gillibrand, who brought transgender Navy officer Blake Dremann to the State of the Union address Tuesday, said in the press release. "The heads of the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, and Coast Guard have all testified to Congress that transgender service members are serving in our military without any problems. We should end this discriminatory ban for good and ensure our transgender service members can continue to do their jobs, serve with dignity, and protect our country. That's what our legislation would do, and I urge my colleagues in Congress to fight with me to overturn the President's cruel and unnecessary ban, respect the transgender troops who are willing to die for our country, and pass this bipartisan bill now."

LGBTQ activists praised the legislation. "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," Jennifer Levi, Transgender Rights Project director of GLBTQ Legal Advocates & Defenders, said in the release.

"This bill is urgently needed to protect the thousands of transgender service members who could be discarded or forced to serve in silence and fear," added 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 Senators Gillibrand, Reed, and Collins for leading this historic measure and we urge every senator to back this bill as the necessary and moral thing to do."

"Lambda Legal is so appreciative of Senator Gillibrand, Representative Speier, and all of the other champions who are spearheading this important legislation to ensure that transgender service members are treated equally," noted Sharon McGowan, the group's legal director and chief strategy officer. "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."

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Trudy Ring

Trudy Ring, The Advocate's copy chief, has spent much of her journalistic career covering the LGBT movement. When she's not fielding questions about grammar, spelling, and LGBT history, she's sharing movie trivia or classic rock lyrics.
Trudy Ring, The Advocate's copy chief, has spent much of her journalistic career covering the LGBT movement. When she's not fielding questions about grammar, spelling, and LGBT history, she's sharing movie trivia or classic rock lyrics.