The head of the House Armed Services Committee, Democratic Rep. Adam Smith of Washington, has made it clear that in 2020 he will push for legislation in Congress to permit transgender troops in the military, a perspective which the Trump administration has generally opposed.
Smith stated, “Even if we know (Senate Armed Services Committee chairman) Sen. Jim Inhofe and Donald Trump won’t change their minds, do we want to take another run at it and how? We’ll be discussing that with a lot of people,” as Military Timesreported.
In March 2019, the Defense Department approved a policy largely barring transgender troops and military recruits who were transitioning to another sex from joining the military. A United States Court of Appeals had dismissed a claim by a lower court that the policy implemented by the Department of Defense under former Secretary of Defense James Mattis had constituted a blanket ban on transgenders in the military, noting:
Although the Mattis Plan continues to bar many transgender persons from joining or serving in the military, the record indicates that the Plan allows some transgender persons barred under the military’s standards prior to the Carter Policy to join and serve in the military. The Mattis Plan, for example, contains a reliance exemption that will allow at least some transgender service members to continue to serve and receive gender transition-related medical care.
Also, Plaintiffs contended that the Mattis Plan’s exclusion of transgender persons who have gender dysphoria or who are unwilling to serve in their biological sex constitutes a blanket ban, arguing this case as if all transgender individuals either (1) have gender dysphoria or (2) transition to their preferred gender. They characterized these as “essential” and “defining” aspects of being transgender … Other than perhaps one passing statement by one of Plaintiffs’ experts, we can find nothing in the record to support this definition of being transgender, as all of the reports supporting both the Carter Policy and the Mattis Plan defined transgender persons as “identifying” with a gender other than their biological sex.
… we must recognize that the Mattis Plan plausibly relies upon the “considered professional judgment” of “appropriate military officials,” and appears to permit some transgender individuals to serve in the military consistent with established military mental health, physical health, and sex-based standards.
After the court rendered its decision, Pentagon spokeswoman Jessica Maxwell said, “The department remains bound by three other court orders that require continued implementation” of the Obama administration policy that permitted transgender personnel to serve openly. She added that the Department of Defense “is consulting with the Department of Justice on next steps in the litigation. We look forward to continuing to press our case in the courts.”
Military Times noted, “House lawmakers last summer approved language in the sweeping, annual defense budget measure that would have overridden President Trump’s ban on transgender individuals joining in the military. But the proposal was dropped during negotiations, and the final policy bill included only some new studies on the potential impact of allowing them to join.”