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House votes to block Trump’s transgender military ban

President Donald J. Trump stands in the House of Representatives chamber delivering his State of the Union address, Joined by Vice President Mike Pence and House Speaker Paul Ryan, on Jan. 30, 2018. (D. Myles Cullen/White House)
June 19, 2019

On Tuesday night, the House of Representatives approved a measure to block a ban on transgender service members implemented by President Donald Trump.

In a 243 to 183 vote, the Democratic-majority House approved the amendment to the $1 trillion spending bill that would lift the transgender ban, although the entire bill could be vetoed by President Donald Trump, the Associated Press reported on Wednesday.

Opponents of the ban argued that it’s divisive and discriminatory, while proponents argued that transgender service members compromise readiness.

In a 2017 memorandum, President Trump reversed the policy to allow transgender members to serve, which was implemented by former President Barack Obama in 2014.

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After initial legal fights over the ban, the Trump Administration tasked former Defense Secretary Jim Mattis to review the issue. Mattis later said allowing transgender troops to serve was damaging to the military’s readiness and lethality.

After a months-long review of the issue, Mattis determined that those diagnosed with gender dysphoria also experience dangerous side effects such as suicide, anxiety, depression and drug addiction, and that surgeries and therapies were not successful in alleviating these side effects.

A month after the Department of Defense (DOD) approved it, the formal ban went into effect on April 12 as a policy against the gender dysphoria condition instead of transgender status. The House held a vote of 238 to 185 to officially oppose the transgender ban and urge the DOD not to implement the policy.

The policy faced numerous challenges before, and has continued to be challenged since.

The ban stipulated that individuals who identify as transgender but have not received a gender dysphoria diagnosis or treatment will continue to be eligible to serve, but only by their biological sex.

Those who have received treatment will be eligible to serve after they have been declared medically stable for a period of 36 months after treatment.

Approximately 8,000 transgender troops were estimated to be unaffected by the policy, while an estimated 1,000 who have received diagnosis and treatment are affected.

Other estimates say 14,700 transgender troops are currently serving.

In January, the U.S. Supreme Court decided in a 5-4 vote that the Pentagon can continue bans of transgender troops while lawsuits are ongoing. The decision removed injunctions imposed by two courts, but two others remained.

A federal district court judge affirmed the same decision just last week, allowing the Supreme Court’s hold on the injunctions to remain in place while lawsuits could be heard and decided.