Published: Fri, July 14, 2017
Worldwide | By Gretchen Simon

GOP Lawmaker Tries To Block Health Care Coverage Of Trans Service Members

GOP Lawmaker Tries To Block Health Care Coverage Of Trans Service Members

A Rand Corp. study found that there are between 2,500 and 7,000 transgender service members in the active-duty military. She said that stems from $130,000 per transition surgery, plus the cost of hormone treatments, and that providing those treatment could lead troops to take time off and compromise the military's readiness.

Reaction from LGBTI groups was swift.

The Wisconsin Republican said he wants to Defense Secretary James Mattis on the issue even though Ryan backs an amendment that would effectively override the Pentagon's decision on service by transgender troops. "It should be overwhelmingly rejected by members of the House of Representatives".

Transgender service members have been able to serve openly in the military since past year, when former Defense Secretary Ash Carter ended the ban. "Transgender service members and their families, like all of those serving in the military, make sacrifices for this country each and every day that we should be celebrating and honoring".

Hartzler's argument is purportedly based on Trans Americans ability to serve, comparing the "affliction" of being transgender to medical issues like flat feet, asthma, and bunions.

Matt Thorn, the executive director of military LGBT advocacy group Outserve-SLDN, called the amendment "a mean-spirited, unconstitutional attempt to impede the recruitment of openly transgender individuals".

Meanwhile HRC (Human Rights Campaign), the largest LGBTI advocacy group in the U.S., called Hartzler's 'unconscionable'. "They are fighting to rip away the health care of thousands of courageous service members".

"Figure out whether you're man or a woman before you join", Hunter said.

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Since Oct. 1, transgender troops have been able to receive medical care and start formally changing their gender identifications in the Pentagon's personnel system. Trans people who were already serving in secret were allowed to immediately come out without fear of being discharged. However, it was announced in June, on the eve of the deadline, they are postponing the policy another six months.

The close vote nonetheless underscored the zeal with which a number of Republicans are seizing opportunities to reverse what they cast as President Barack Obama's social engineering of the armed forces.

Rep. Hartzler attempted to prevent any transgender people from serving in the military at all.

Hartzler has claimed allowing transgender people into the military saddles taxpayers with medical costs of up to $3.5 billion. Ash Carter said a year ago, when he announced the policy to allow transgender service, that a study by the RAND Corporation found health care "costs would be minimal" and that "the medical treatment that service members who are now transgender require is fairly straightforward, well understood".

During the committee hearing, Rep. Jared Polis (D-Colo.) tried to strip Hartzler's amendment from the bill.

It remains to be seen whether the House vote on the amendment - which marks the first time ever the U.S. House has voted on a measure specifically targeting transgender people - will be successful.

The Washington Blade reported that before the vote Polis commented, 'Medical treatments are between doctors and patients. Transgender service members have risked their lives around the world, and the previous transgender military ban made them unable to be their authentic selves or seek the medical care they needed.

"Choose what gender you are before you serve", Hunter said.

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