Democrats in the US House of Representatives passed an amendment reversing Donald Trump’s transgender military ban on Thursday (11 July).
The amendment, sponsored by Rep. Jackie Speier (D-CA), is part of the annual National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA).
If the amendment ultimately passes with the bill, it will make it legal for transgender people to serve in the military again. Specifically, the amendment makes it legal for anyone who meets gender-neutral occupational standards to serve, regardless of various traits, such as race, sexual orientation, gender identity, and more.
The 242-187 vote happened primarily along party lines. Ten Republicans voted alongside Democrats in favor of the bill.
Overall, the bill has a $733 billion price tag, which has caused concern among some in the progressive voting bloc. Amendments like these, and future ones, such as those limiting Trump’s war powers, could assuage these concerns, however.
‘Let them bring it’
Democrats are calling the amendment the Truman Amendment. This is in honor of President Truman’s executive order racially integrating the military in 1948.
‘Over the last three years, 14,000 transgender service members have served openly and successfully,’ said Speier in a statement. ‘All five service chiefs affirmed they do not hamper lethality or cohesion. Malice and ignorance cannot stop us giving medical care to those brave enough to serve.
‘We know what transgender service members bring to the fight; let them bring it.’
Sarah McBride, the Human Rights Campaign’s National Press Secretary added: ‘Transgender troops have served openly with distinction for years, and they and their fellow service members deserve nothing less than the respect of a grateful nation.
‘The Trump-Pence administration’s trans troop ban goes against medical experts, military leadership and budget analysts; it is unsound, unpopular, and unpatriotic.’
The transgender military ban’s long road
Trump’s ban finally went into effect in April, nearly two years after he first announced it in July 2017.
For the past two years, ardent critics have come out against the ban in droves. Medical experts, military personnel, politicians, advocates and more have all spoken out against the ban and its various consequences.
In February, several trans service members testified before Congress to speak out against the ban. One month later, the House voted against the ban in a non-binding resolution. Although the vote had no legislative power, it was a symbolic show of support for trans members of the military.
Earlier in April, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi condemned the ban as an ‘act of cruelty’, which would leave the Trump administration’s legacy in the ‘dustbin of history’. Another critics was former four-star army general Stanley McChrystal, who described the ban as ‘a mistake’.
After a federal appeals court struck down the last attempt to block the ban in March, however, it was able to go into effect in April.
The bill now faces more amendment votes and the Senate.