WASHINGTON, D.C. — Rep. Jackie Speier of California introduced an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act that would bar the military from discrimination against potential recruits on the basis of race, color, national origin, religion or gender, including gender identity or sexual orientation. The amendment would still require that potential recruits meet all standards currently in place by the Armed Forces for eligibility.
The Modern Military Association of America (MMAA) came out in support of the amendment. Andy Blevins, executive director of the MMAA said, “This critically important amendment would help ensure any qualified American — including transgender patriots — are able to serve our country in the military.”
A Department of Defense Directive on Diversity Management and Equal Opportunity from 2016 contains similar language, but the directive has not yet been codified.
The ban on transgender service members was announced on Twitter via the personal account of Donald J. Trump. Citing “Generals and military experts,” Trump announced that “The U.S. Government will not accept or allow Transgender (sic) individuals to serve in any capacity in the US Military.”
While the tweet was posted on July 26, 2017, no official policy was announced beforehand. Several top military officials were surprised by the sudden announcement and were not consulted before the tweet was posted. A memorandum was sent from the Secretary of Defense to Trump recommending that transgender troops be barred from service unless they were already serving and diagnosed with gender dysphoria before the policy took effect.
A Rand Corp. Study found that allowing transgender people to serve in the military would have a minimal effect on readiness and effectiveness of the U.S. military. The study also found that the healthcare costs of covering transition for military service members would be “exceedingly small.”
The House Committee on Rules is expected to consider the amendment this week.
Rep. Speier is chair of the House Armed Services Military Personnel Subcommittee.