VICTORY: NDAA Anti-Transgender Amendment Fails in House of Representatives

HRC claimed victory following the defeat of a hateful and cruel amendment proposed by Representative Vicky Hartzler (R-MO) to the FY18 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) which would ban critical access to transition-related health care for military service members and their families. The amendment was defeated by a vote of 214-209 with 24 Republican “nay” votes.

“Today’s strong, bipartisan vote sent a resounding message of support for our military families and transgender service members,” said HRC President Chad Griffin. “This dangerous amendment would have put at risk the health and wellbeing of military families, and threatened military readiness and national security. We applaud those members from both parties who stood up for the thousands of transgender service members proudly serving their country.”


Just two weeks ago, Rep. Hartzler failed in an attempt to ban transgender service members from the military during the NDAA markup before the House Armed Services Committee. These transgender service members have been serving openly and proudly for more than a year. Rep. Hartzler’s new amendment would have prohibited the Department of Defense from providing medical treatment for transition-related services.

In order to propagate her attacks, Rep. Hartzler used completely unsubstantiated figures to drastically inflate health care costs for transgender people. A RAND corporation study commissioned by the Pentagon found cost increases for providing such medically necessary care are minimal.

According to the Williams Institute, there are an estimated 15,500 actively serving transgender members of the U.S. military. Thousands of transgender people have served with honor and distinction in our military, including the more than 134,000 transgender veterans who are alive today. Transgender service members have risked their lives around the world, and the previous transgender military ban made them unable to be their authentic selves or seek the medical care they needed.  This had negative implications for our nation’s military readiness.  A service member who is able to be open and honest about their gender identity and receive appropriate care is more productive and focused on the mission.

HRC Assailed Paul Ryan for Clearing Path for Anti-Transgender Amendment

HRC assailed House Speaker Paul Ryan for clearing a path for a dangerous anti-transgender amendment — and then making false claims about the process to dodge culpability. Ryan made two false claims, both of which were reported by the Washington Blade:

False Claim #1: “I think it’s important that we work closely with the DOD on this. As you probably know, Secretary Mattis is under a review on this right now, and so that I want to make sure that what we do is in close coordination with them.” -Paul Ryan

False Claim #2: “It’s a free process,” Ryan said. “It’s open process. She can bring an amendment to the floor if she wants to.”

“Speaker Ryan’s claims that this process was somehow open are completely false,” said David Stacy, HRC Government Affairs Director. “There were several pro-LGBTQ amendments submitted by members of Congress and not a single one made it through Ryan’s so-called ‘open process.’ Speaker Ryan and GOP leadership intentionally cleared the path for Rep. Hartzler’s dangerous anti-transgender amendment to be made in order and fully share responsibility for this attack on transgender service members and their families. Despite his purported desire to work with the Pentagon, the Pentagon has not asked for this amendment and Secretary Mattis opposes it. We strongly urge the House to vote against this abhorrent amendment to strip transition-related health care from active duty troops and their families.”

Speaker Ryan falsely claimed to have an “open process” for amendments submitted to the NDAA. The following pro-LGBTQ amendments were submitted for consideration but were not made in order to be voted on by the House:

178, Version 1, Pocan (WI), Gallego (AZ), Correa (CA), Schneider (IL), Jayapal (WA), Democrat
Guarantees a process for service members discharged solely because of their sexual orientation to initiate a timely, consistent, and transparent review of their discharge in order to change their record to reflect their honorable service.

244, Version 1, Polis (CO), Quigley (IL), Democrat
Directs the Secretary of Defense to conduct a study on the impact of the FDA’s policies restricting blood donations from men who have sex with men on the readiness of the Armed Forces and the blood supply of military medical treatment facilities.

295, Version 1, Maloney, Sean (NY), Democrat
Prohibits funds from being used to contravene the President’s Executive Order pertaining to equal employment in Federal government contracting.

296, Version 1, Schneider (IL), Democrat
Expresses the sense of Congress commending LGBT service members, including transgender personnel, for their service to the United States.

298, Version 2, Schneider (IL), Democrat
Expresses the sense of Congress that LGBT service members have served throughout the history of the U.S. with distinction, courage, and honor, and should be commended for their service.

297, Version 1, Barragán, (CA), Democrat
Late Requires the Secretary of Defense to complete a study on the impact of the repeal of the ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ policy on military readiness and provide the report within 30 days of completion to the congressional defense committees.

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