Washington, DC — U.S. Senators Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) and Susan Collins (R-ME) introduced a bipartisan amendment today that would prevent the Department of Defense (DoD) from removing qualified service members from the Armed Forces based solely on their gender identity. Transgender service members have been openly serving since June 2016.
Senators Collins’ and Gillibrand’s amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act would also require Secretary of Defense James Mattis to proceed with his report on military service by transgender individuals and report his findings to Congress.
“Any individual who wants to join our military and meets the standards should be allowed to serve, period. Gender identity should have nothing to do with it,” said Senator Gillibrand, ranking member of the Senate Armed Services Subcommittee on Personnel. “I am proud to work with Senator Collins to introduce our bipartisan amendment to protect transgender members of our Armed Forces, and I will always fight for our brave transgender troops who put their lives on the line to protect our country.”
“Our armed forces should welcome the service of any qualified individual who is willing and capable of serving our country,” said Senator Collins. “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.”
Specifically, Senators Collins and Gillibrand’s amendment would:
- Express a sense of Congress that individuals who are qualified and can meet the standards to serve in the military should be eligible to serve;
- Prohibit DOD from involuntarily separating, or denying the reenlistment or continuation in service in the Armed Forces of, currently serving transgender service members solely on the basis of the member’s gender identity; and
- Require Secretary Mattis to complete his review of accession of transgender individuals into the Armed Forces by the end of this year and report the results to Congress.
In July, Senators Gillibrand and Collins, along with 43 other Senators, sent a letter to Secretary Mattis urging him to refrain from discharging transgender service members until the DoD concludes its review.
Senator Collins was the lead Republican in the successful effort to repeal the military’s discriminatory “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy in December 2010. Senator Gillibrand also helped lead the charge in the Senate to repeal this discriminatory, harmful policy to strengthen our military by building support for an 18-month moratorium on enforcement of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” and securing a commitment from Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Carl Levin to hold a committee hearing on the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy in February 2010. This was the first Senate hearing on the policy since 1993 – a major step toward the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.”