Rep. Huffman, 15 Representatives to Secretary of Defense Mattis: Allow Transgender Individuals to Serve the Country They Love
Washington, D.C.- In response to reports that Defense Secretary James Mattis is considering a six-month delay in implementing a policy change to permit transgender individuals to enter the military, Rep. Jared Huffman (D-San Rafael) led a group of 15 Representatives today in urging the Secretary to move ahead as planned and ensure transgender individuals seeking to serve their country are afforded the opportunity to do so.
The Department of Defense officially ended the ban on transgender troops openly serving in the armed services last year. Guidance to allow for transgender individuals to enlist and receive military appointments is scheduled to go into effect no later than July 1, 2017.
“We strongly encourage you to deny the request for a six month delay in transgender policy implementation,” wrote the members of Congress. “Throughout our nation’s history, the Department of Defense has benefited from diversity and equal opportunity programs and policies, which support recruitment, retention, and promotion. There are thousands of transgender individuals in our military today. There should be no further delay in implementing this policy and allowing transgender individuals to serve the country they love.
Rep. Huffman has heard directly from constituents who are concerned about Secretary Mattis’ expected announcement and would be prevented from serving should this delay go into effect.
The letter was cosigned by: Suzanne Bonamici (D-OR), Salud Carbajal (D-CA), André Carson (D-IN), Matt Cartwright (D-PA), Pramila Jayapal (D-WA), Joesph P. Kennedy (D-MA), Alan Lowenthal (D-CA), Sean Patrick Maloney (D-NY), Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC), Bill Pascrell, Jr. (D-NJ), Mark Pocan (D-WI), Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL), Jan Schakowsky (D-IL), Louise Slaughter (D-NY), Dina Titus (D-NV), Niki Tsongas (D-MA)
The full text of the letter can be found below:
June 30, 2017
Honorable General James Mattis
Secretary of Defense
1000 Defense Pentagon
Washington, DC 20301-1000
Dear Secretary Mattis:
We are writing to express our significant concern about the request for a 6 month delay in the implementation of the policy to admit transgender service members into the military. As you are aware, on June 30, 2016, the Department of Defense (DOD) removed the ban on transgender troops and established a new policy that would allow for transgender enlistments and appointments beginning on July 1, 2017.
The removal of the ban on transgender troops was the result of a yearlong review of DOD policies regarding transgender service members and the findings of a working group composed of military and civilian personnel to study the implications. In this process, the DOD also identified health care needs and impacts, assessed the potential readiness implications, and reviewed the experience of transgender service members overseas. The findings indicated that the medical cost of transgender service members would be limited, and that far from hindering readiness, “commanders noted that the policies had benefits for all service members by creating a more inclusive and diverse force.”
Additionally, the policy that has been under review recommends that a transgender individual be stable in their new gender for 18 months prior to admittance into the armed forces. We understand that there is a request to change that time frame to 2 years. There is no evidence to support this change, and we are concerned that it could hinder the recruitment of troops. We hope that you will honor the 18-month time-frame initially proposed.
We strongly encourage you to deny the request for a six month delay in transgender policy implementation. Throughout our nation’s history, the Department of Defense has benefited from diversity and equal opportunity programs and policies, which support recruitment, retention, and promotion. There are thousands of transgender individuals in our military today. There should be no further delay in implementing this policy and allowing transgender individuals to serve the country they love.
Thank you for your consideration
Members of Congress