On Thursday, the U.S. House of Representatives passed an amendment that would overturn Donald Trump’s ban on transgender people in the military, which has been in effect since April 2019.
As it stands, trans people can serve in the military but only in the sex they were assigned at birth. In order to serve in their true gender identity, they would need to get a waiver.
The new measure, introduced by Rep. Jackie Speier, a Democrat from California, with 28 Democratic cosponsors, was approved by a voice vote alongside dozens of other amendments passed as the House is considering a $1.3 trillion spending package. The amendment would block the use of these funds to implement the current trans service policy.
The same amendment was passed by the Democratic-controlled House last year, when it was also spearheaded by Rep. Speier, but it didn’t pass the Republican-majority Senate. The amendment could suffer the same fate this time around.
Since the trans ban was implemented, only two trans service members have been considered for waivers. A Pentagon report to Congress last month showed that no waivers had been denied and no one had been discharged as of February, The Hill reports.
The fact that so few waivers had been considered prompted 12 House Democrats to write a letter to Defense Secretary Mark Esper demanding answers.
“While we continue to make positive steps forward for female, minority, gay and lesbian military service members, we are deeply concerned that the administration’s policies towards transgender service members are highly discriminatory against this class of individuals and remain an effective ban on their ability to serve our country in uniform,” the legislators, who include Reps. Anthony Brown and Speier, wrote this month.
The letter also called for the data to be updated by August 15.
Before Trump’s ban, transgender people were free to serve openly since June 2016, thanks to the Obama administration lifting a prior ban on their service. While the military still allows those who came out under the Obama policy to continue serving openly, the Trump action has basically halted entry to service by trans people who wish to serve in their true gender identity.
According to the Pentagon report, 86 trans people in the Army, 59 in the Navy, 13 in the Marines, and 39 in the Air Force have been identified since Trump's ban took effect.
Of that number, 12 have been referred to the Pentagon’s Disability Evaluation System to determine whether they’ll be able to return to duty or be discharged. The two who have been considered for a waiver are both in the Navy. One waiver has been granted to a Navy officer since the report came out, The Hill notes, one of several ways in which the data is already outdated.
Furthermore, 19 trans people were medically disqualified from enlisting or commissioning as an officer based due to the policy, the Pentagon report says. None were considered for a waiver.