Nearly two dozen House Democrats proposed legislation this week that would prohibit the Department of Defense from discriminating against transgender people who want to serve in the military.
The bill from Rep. Sara Jacobs, R-Calif., is aimed at stopping Republicans from reestablishing former President Trump’s ban on enlisting anyone with gender dysphoria or who has already undergone gender transitioning. President Biden reversed that decision, and Jacobs and 22 other Democrats in the House are pushing for a new law that would prevent that Trump-era policy from returning.
“Anyone willing and able to serve our country should be able to serve authentically,” said Jacobs, who is also vice chair of the Congressional Equity Caucus and co-chair of the Transgender Equality Taskforce.
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“Discrimination of all kinds, especially against the transgender and gender non-conforming communities, prevents our military from recruiting and retaining the best and brightest and weakens military readiness,” she said. “As our military faces recruitment and retention challenges, we need to ensure that our policies reflect our military’s values of equality, diversity, and inclusion.”
In 2017, Trump announced on Twitter that the military would “not accept or allow… transgender individuals to serve in any capacity in the U.S. military,” because the military must be focused on “decisive and overwhelming victory” and cannot be “burdened with the tremendous medical costs and disruption that transgender in the military would entail.”
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While Biden took down that policy, Republicans have been looking to bring it back. In February, Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., and Rep. Jim Banks, R-Ind., proposed legislation to again prohibit anyone with a “history or diagnosis of gender dysphoria from serving the military,” with only some limited exceptions.
“Biden has turned our military into a woke social experiment,” Rubio said last month. “It is a stupid way to go about protecting our nation. We need to spend more time thinking about how to counter threats like China, Russia, and North Korea and less time thinking about pronouns.”
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Rubio and Banks noted that the military does not allow people with peanut allergies to serve, and that people who were treated for ADHD must get a waiver to serve, while anyone with a diagnosis of gender dysphoria is allowed in. Banks said Biden’s move to allow transgender people to serve was “purely political.”
Under the GOP bill, all transgender people or those with a history of gender dysphoria would be banned from military service unless they have been stable in their biological sex for three years prior to joining. Anyone seeking gender reassignment surgery and those who have already had surgery would be banned.
Those already in the military could continue serving if they are stable in their biological sex.
The GOP bill would also require the Defense Department to use its Defense Enrollment Eligibility Reporting System to use only biological sex as a gender marker and allow no other means of identifying gender other than the sex of the person at birth.
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