Though the GOP is tirelessly working to make things harder for trans folk, one of their latest attacks failed. An amendment to the annual defense bill that would overturn Obama-era regulations requiring the Pentagon to cover Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) or Gender Confirmation Surgery (GCS).
Democrats swayed 24 Republicans to their side, defeating the bill 214-209.
Rep. Vicky Hartzler of Missouri wrote the amendment. It would have prevented money going to gender-transition related treatment. She framed it as making sure the military budget only goes to “critical national defense needs.” She also claimed that covering transitioning would cost the Pentagon $1.3 billion over the next decade.
However, Aaron Belkin, an expert at San Francisco State University claims the cost would be $5.6 million a year — or $56 million over 10 years. The annual budget for healthcare in the military is approximately $50 billion.
Hartzler has shown herself to be no friend to the transgender community. In a radio interview earlier this month, she claimed trans people in the military were a threat comparable to ISIS:
At a time when we should be focusing on the threats from North Korea, and Putin, and ISIS, we’re having to deal with a threat here at home — a domestic threat — of allowing transgenders [sic] in our service, which is a real problem because it impacts their readiness, and it’s a huge cost for our military.
According to a 2014 estimate by the Williams Institute, there are at least 10,000 trans people currently serving. They’ve also estimated that 150,000 trans people have served in the military at any time. Trans service members have been able to serve openly since last year, thanks to then-Defense Secretary Ash Carter.
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