The U.S. House of Representatives is set to vote on a controversial amendment that will deny transgender people critical healthcare.
Introduced by Representative Vicky Hartzler (R-Mo.), the amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act would deny treatments such as hormone replacement therapy and gender confirmation surgery for transgender people serving in the military. The amendment would also prevent family members of those who are serving from receiving transgender related care. The only exception in the amendment would be for mental health therapy.
“The Hartzler amendment undermines readiness by arbitrarily limiting medical care for transgender service members.” – Rep. Jared Polis (D-Colo.)
Hartzler is citing a fabricated figure that estimates transgender care would cost the military $1.35 billion over the next 10 years. A study by the Rand Corp estimated transgender care would actually cost between $2.4 million and $8.4 million annually out of the Pentagon’s multi billion-dollar budget. Hartzler claims the research conducted by the Rand Corp is flawed and that the estimates made by her staff are more accurate.
Representative Jared Polis (D-Colo.), who is the chair of the LGBT Equality Caucus, offered his own amendment to remove the anti-transgender measure, but it was defeated by a vote of 8-2 as members fell within political party lines. “Medical treatments are between doctors and patients,” said Polis. “There’s not an appropriate issue for somebody to prevent a particular kind of medical treatment from being given. The Hartzler amendment undermines readiness by arbitrarily limiting medical care for transgender service members.”
“Bigotry is the last thing this country should offer any brave man or woman who volunteers to defend us.” – Rep. Joe Kennedy III (D-Mass.)
Also outspoken was Representative Joe Kennedy III (D-Mass.), who is the chair of the Transgender Equality task force. “Bigotry is the last thing this country should offer any brave man or woman who volunteers to defend us,” Kennedy said. “By inserting Congress into the personal medical decisions of certain service members, this amendment tells thousands of Americans willing to pay the ultimate sacrifice that they are not entitled to the same rights as the soldier they stand next to. Transgender Americans, in uniform or not, deserve better than this hateful amendment from those elected to represent them.”
Vicky Hartzler has made herself a reputation as one of the most anti-LGBT members of congress. She has previously compared transgender service members to ISIS, calling them a “domestic threat” to the military. She also proposed an amendment that would prevent transgender people from serving in the military altogether. She withdrew the amendment while vowing to reintroduce it if the Pentagon does not take it upon themselves to act on the policy that allows transgender troops to openly serve. Hartzler is also a known opponent of gay marriage.
According to the Williams Institute, there are currently over 15,000 transgender people currently serving in the military. If passed, the amendment will affect not only those who are serving, but their families as well