WASHINGTON – Senators Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) and Susan Collins (R-Maine) introduced an amendment to the annual defense policy bill Monday night that would prevent transgender people already openly serving in the U.S. military from being booted from the ranks.
The amendment filed by the bipartisan duo to the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) would relay the sense from Congress that all qualified individuals who meet the standards can serve in the military, but not mandate it.
The amendment also would delay any action on transgender accessions until 60 days after Defense Secretary Jim Mattis completes a six-month review initiated June 30 on the effect of transgender people serving openly in the military. Mattis said at the time that he had delayed the plan to move forward with new accessions of transgender troops so the Defense Department could better study the topic.
President Donald Trump signed a directive on military service by transgender persons on Aug. 25, after tweeting the previous month that he intended to ban them from the military. Mattis has until Feb. 21 to present a plan to the White House to address transgender service. This review includes the future of currently serving openly transgender troops who may have disclosed their gender dysphoria to the Defense Department after former President Barack Obama last year rescinded the ban on openly transgender people serving.
“If individuals are willing to put on the uniform of our country, be deployed in war zones, and risk their lives for our freedoms, then we should be expressing our gratitude to them, not trying to exclude them from military service,” Collins said in a statement.
The amendment is one of over 300 filed to the NDAA, which is set to be considered in the full Senate this week. 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.