Marco Rubio files transgender military ban bill

Marco Rubio
Sen. Marco Rubio on the campaign trail in 2016, when he ran in the Republican primary Photo: Shutterstock

Sens. Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Jim Banks (R-IN) have introduced a bill to ban transgender people from serving openly in the U.S. military, effectively bringing back Donald Trump’s transgender military ban. But the two senators promise their bill is worse than Trump’s ban.

The bill, called the “Ensuring Military Readiness Act,” says “persons who identify as transgender with a history of diagnosis of gender dysphoria are disqualified from military service.” The bill provides a few narrow exceptions for some trans people who are willing to present as members of their sex assigned at birth.

While passing the bill in both chambers of Congress, getting it signed by the president, and having the military implement it would require a lot of time and attention be placed on transgender people in the military – all to ban the estimated 150,000 transgender servicemembers, some of whom have gone through years of training – Rubio said that the bill was necessary to keep the military from worrying about “pronouns” and make it more effective in countering the U.S.’s rivals.

“[President Joe] Biden has turned our military into a woke social experiment,” said Rubio in a statement. “It is a stupid way to go about protecting our nation. We need to spend more time thinking about how to counter threats like China, Russia, and North Korea and less time thinking about pronouns.”

His office said that the bill would have “more stringent requirements” to prevent transgender people from serving in the military and would change the Defense Enrollment Eligibility Reporting System (DEERS) “to ensure all service members’ gender markers match their biological sex.”

“We serve with honor and we’re patriotic,” Transgender American Veterans Association president Evan Young told Rolling Stone. “We give our lives for this country, yet they’re saying we can’t serve and it’s beyond my comprehension why, besides discrimination.”

President Barack Obama and then-Defense Secretary Ash Carter ended the ban on transgender people serving openly in the military in 2016. But in July 2017, Trump tweeted his ban on transgender people in the military after claiming he consulted “with my Generals and military experts.” The ban was criticized by military leaders but it was formalized in the following months.

Biden’s Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin overturned Trump’s transgender military ban in his first day on the job.

The bill is unlikely to come up for a vote in the Democratic-controlled Senate, and even if it passed Biden would probably not sign a law to overturn his administration’s policies. But Rubio’s and Banks’s bill shows that even mainstream Republicans still want the government to openly discriminate against transgender adults.

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