Democrat Jackie Speier to table bill to end transgender military ban
A Democratic congresswoman plans to table a bill that would end the ban on transgender people in the US military.
Despite the 2011 repeal of ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, which banned openly LGB soldiers from military service, the US military continues to enforce regulations that block trans people from active service.
Rights activists have long called on the military to scrap the outdated medical regulations – which disqualify people from service if they have “current or history of psychosexual conditions, including but not limited to transsexualism, exhibitionism, transvestism, voyeurism, and other paraphilias”.
Though little progress has been made on the issue to date, a number of lawmakers are reportedly planning to move on the issue.
Jackie Speier, who serves in the US House of Representatives for California’s 14th district, is attempting to gather support from her colleagues in order to pass a bill.
The New York Times reports that in a letter looking for potential co-sponsors, the lawmaker has written: “The current ban has hurt our troops and damaged our national defense for too long.
“Many in uniform endure tremendous challenges and setbacks — emotional, financial and professional — because they are forced to serve in silence.”
Separately, fellow Democrat Mike Honda – who has a transgender granddaughter – has been gathering signatures for a petition on the issue.
The congressman plans to call on Defense Secretary Ashton Carter, urging him to take action to reform the rules – without an act of congress.
If Jackie Speier does try to take the issue down a legislative route, it is likely to have a rough ride, as both Houses of Congress are currently controlled by the Republicans.
The party has seen a step-up in anti-trans rhetoric in recent months, with Republican Presidential candidate Mike Huckabee ‘joking’ that he wishes he was transgender to spy on teenage girls in the shower.
Meanwhile, another Presidential hopeful Lindsey Graham seemed completely unaware that trans people were banned from service in the first place, when questioned on the issue.
Alarmingly Senator Graham, who is running to be President and Commander-in-Chief of the US Military, has based his campaign around his military experience.