The U.S. House of Representatives, on July 13, rejected 214-209 a budget amendment, put forward by U.S. Rep. Vicky Hartzler ( R-MO ), that would have prohibited the Department of Defense from paying for transgender employees' medical procedures related to their transition.
The vote followed a day of aggressive lobbying by LGBT advocates and supporters to reject the proposal, which Hartzler introduced July 12. The Missouri congresswoman said the amendment was intended as a cost-cutting measure. A 2016 RAND Corporation study said, however, that once transgender personnel are fully integrated into the U.S. Military, the number of transition-related procedures such as hormone therapy and gender-reassignment surgery would be relatively small.
Top military brass asked Defense Secretary James Mattis to delay full implementation of rules allowing transgender members to serve openly until January 2018. Currently serving transgender personnel are not affected by the delay.
"Today's strong, bipartisan vote sent a resounding message of support for our military families and transgender service members," said HRC President Chad Griffin in a statement. "This dangerous amendment would have put at risk the health and wellbeing of military families, and threatened military readiness and national security. We applaud those members from both parties who stood up for the thousands of transgender service members proudly serving their country."
American Military Partner Association ( AMPA ) President Ashley Broadway-Mack called the proposal "a horrifying, vicious attack on service members and military family members" in a statement. She added, "It would have been beyond unconscionable to rip away the critically important health care of transgender military family members and service memberscare that their doctors believe is medically necessaryand would have severely harmed thousands of military families and undermined military readiness."
OutServe-SLDN Executive Director Matt Thorn added, "It would have been harmful to trans service members, spouses, and families with trans children; it would have undermined our mission readiness by degrading our capabilities as a fighting force. OutServe-SLDN will continue to support and defend our trans brothers and sisters in any and all legal and advocacy matters."
In a July 13 HRC conference call in anticipation of the vote, Activist Shari Swokowski, a transgender armed-services veteran, said, "I'm appalled that anyone would withdraw medical care from anyone. … I wonder what Rep. Hartzler would think about the government coming between doctors and the healthcare of her or her family members."
The RAND study is at www.rand.org/pubs/research_reports/RR1530.html .