Congress Just Introduced Bills To Stop Trump’s Transgender Military Ban In Its Tracks

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On Thursday, lawmakers from both chambers of Congress introduced bills against Trump's transgender military ban — and they have bipartisan support. Per The Washington Post, the legislation was introduced by three senators (two Democrats and one Republican) and five representatives (four Democrats and one Republican). Specifically, the bills would prohibit the Defense Department from denying the enlistment or continued service of transgender people on the basis of their gender identity. It might not have the support of POTUS, but with bipartisan backing in both chambers, it's possible the legislation could gain steam.

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, one of the lawmakers who introduced the bill, said in a statement on Thursday, "President Trump’s ban on transgender service members is discrimination, it undermines our military readiness, and it is an insult to the brave and patriotic transgender Americans who choose to serve in our military."

On the other side of the partisan aisle, Sen. Susan Collins, another supporter of the bill, said in a statement acquired by NBC News:

Anyone who is qualified, able to be deployed into war zones and wants to serve should continue to be allowed to do so, including our transgender troops. If individuals are willing to put on the uniform of our country and risk their lives for our freedoms, then we should be expressing our gratitude to them, not trying to kick them out of the military.

In response to the legislation, many activists and supporters of the transgender community are celebrating. Jennifer Levi, the director of the GLBTQ Legal Advocates & Defenders’ Transgender Rights Project, said in a statement acquired by The Washington Post:

The bills introduced today affirm that anyone who meets military standards should be able to serve their country. We appreciate that leaders in Congress are stepping in to protect our troops and work for a solution at the same time our legal fight for the rights of transgender service members continues.

The bipartisan legislation comes a month after the Supreme Court gave the Trump administration a 5-4 vote of approval in moving forward on its transgender ban, despite the fact that lower courts are still challenging the policy. Per The Washington Post, transgender men and women had been openly serving in the military for two years at that point. Army Chief of Staff Mark A. Milley had confirmed last April via Politico that there were "precisely zero" problems reported thus far with transgender people in the military.

Still, the Trump administration has consistently moved forward with its efforts to exclude transgender individuals from the military. Trump said in October (via NBC), “I’m protecting everybody. I want to protect our country.”

Of course, one of the most immediate implications of a trans ban in the military would be that many service members would have to essentially hide their identity. Shane Ortega, a retired trans solder who served in Iraq and Afghanistan, spoke to Vox in 2016 about what it was like to do just that.

“You have to be perfect in every sense of the word," Ortega said. "You have to always question people around you. You can never relax."

The White House has not yet addressed the latest bipartisan effort to bring down the transgender military ban.