Bipartisan amendment entered to support trans service members

  YURI GRIPAS | REUTERS | BDN  Senator Susan Collins

In the face of tiple civil rights lawsuits, Trump officials have already blocked recruitment of any military personnel who identify as transgender, while they are working on plans to "purge" existing soldiers from next year.

Sens. Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.).

McCain said in a statement last month it would be "a step in the wrong direction" to discharge transgender individuals exclusively on the basis of gender identity, and the Pentagon should complete its study first before any decisions are made about new recruits.

U.S. Sens. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) and Susan Collins (R-Maine) have introduced an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act that would prevent the U.S. Department of Defense from removing qualified service members from the Armed Forces based exclusively on their gender identity.

Senator Collins said: "Our armed forces should welcome the service of any qualified individual who is willing and capable of serving our country". They say their amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act would protect transgender service members.

In July, President Trump used Twitter to announce that the government would no longer allow 'transgender individuals to serve in any capacity in the U.S. Military'. The amendment also requires him to report the results to Congress.

Gillibrand and Collins were also both at the forefront of repealing "don't ask, don't tell," the policy that allowed gay and lesbian service members to be discharged due to their sexual orientation.

Aaron Belkin, director of the San Francisco-based Palm Center, endorsed the Gillibrand measure in a statement as means to "enhance military readiness".

The absence of that language is likely an attempt to win support from Senate Republicans who objected to Trump's policy, but withheld support for military funds for transition-related health care. The legislation will need to be taken up for a vote, and then need 60 votes to make it into the higher chamber's version of the bill. The defense spending bill is on the Senate floor this week, but whether their amendment will get a hearing isn't certain.

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