House to Consider Ban on Transgender Surgery for US Troops

Hartzler previously offered an amendment - since withdrawn - that would stop the military from enlisting transgender members.

Rep. Adam Smith (D-WA) said during the floor debate that the amendment would take the military in the "wrong direction", and would unfairly target one group of people. Ashley Broadway-Mach, president of the American Military Partner Association, called the proposal a "vicious attack on service members who are sacrificing so much and putting their lives on the line for our country".

Medicare started covering gender reassignment surgery in 2014, after a decades-long ban, in response to a lawsuit filed by a transgender woman who was also a veteran.

Katko, R-Camillus, and Tenney, R-New Hartford, who represent Central New York, were joined by Upstate Republicans Elise Stefanik, R-Willsboro; Tom Reed, R-Corning; and John Faso, R-Kinderhook, in opposing the GOP amendment. "It would have been beyond unconscionable to rip away the critically important health care of transgender military family members and service members - care that their doctors believe is medically necessary - and would have severely harmed thousands of military families and undermined military readiness".

When promoting her bill, Hartzler said there is a "lack of medical consensus on the effectiveness of gender transition treatments", Time reported. The defense bill, which authorizes up to $696 billion in 2018 military spending, is expected to come to a final vote Friday.

Rep. Vicky Hartzler's (R-Mo.) amendment would have barred Pentagon funding from going to any transition-related medical care, except for mental health services. In 2016, former Defense Secretary Ash Carter lifted the ban on transgender service members' ability to serve openly, stating in an article by NBC News that "this is the right thing to do for our people and for the force".

Both House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and Minority Whip Steny Hoyer spoke out against the amendment. However, the delay doesn't affect transgender troops who already are serving openly in the military.

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Hartzler's amendment to the 2018 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) follows another that she withdrew last week targeting the Obama-imposed policy allowing gender-confused "transgender" individuals to serve openly in the USA military.

During the Rules Committee hearing, Rep. Jared Polis, a Democrat from Colorado, attempted to remove Hartzler's amendment from the bill.

"The Hartzler Amendment is specifically created to discriminate against transgender members of the Armed Forces and their families", Ian Thompson, legislative representative for the ACLU, stated.

Congresswoman Hartzler argued that taxpayers should not be responsible for transition-related healthcare, including hormone therapy.

Sarah McBride, spokesperson for the LGBT lobby group Human Rights Campaign, reported, "If only three Members of Congress had voted yes instead [i.e., FOR the measure denying taxpayer funding to the Pentagon for transsexual "sex reassignment surgeries"], this unsafe and discriminatory anti-transgender amendment would have passed". So we need you to call your Congress member today!

A Pentagon-commissioned study by the RAND corporation on the cost of gender transition-related health care for transgender personnel found that it would cost the DOD between $2.4 million and $8.4 million annually.

  • Douglas Reid