Senators Kirsten Gillibrand and Susan Collins introduced an amendment Monday that would prevent the removal of transgender service members from the Armed Forces.
The bipartisan amendment would prohibit the Department of Defense from discharging members of the military based entirely on their gender identity. The amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act would specifically express to Congress that all qualified individuals who meet the standards to enlist should be allowed to serve in the military.
“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,” said Collins in a press release Monday.
The amendment would also ensure that the DOD cannot deny the reenlistment or terminate the current service of someone serving in the Armed Forces based on their gender identity.
Gillibrand and Collins want Secretary of Defense James Mattis to complete his review of accession of transgender people into the military by the end of the year. The amendment also requires him to report the results to Congress.
Back in July, Gillibrand wrote a letter to Secretary Mattis asking him to refrain from discharging transgender individuals from the military until the DOD finishes its review. The letter was signed by Collins and 43 other senators. Collins was the only Republican senator that signed.
The two senators have been battling against anti-LGBTQ legislation since 2010 when they both lead fights against the military’s discriminatory “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy.
Gillibrand serves on the Armed Services Committee and is the ranking member of the subcommittee dedicated to personnel issues.