Before Trump’s ban, Rep. Poliquin tried to strip health care from trans service members

Before Trump’s ban, Rep. Poliquin tried to strip health care from trans service members

President Donald Trump’s announcement on Twitter yesterday that transgender Americans would no longer be allowed “to serve in any capacity” in the U.S. Military came as a surprise to many, even in the Pentagon and in congressional leadership. According to reporting from Politico, the New York Times  and other outlets, it was prompted by a request from a group of hard-right Republicans in the House of Representatives who have been unsuccessfully attempting to target transgender service members through legislation.

An amendment to strip access to transition-related health care services from military personnel and their families was narrowly defeated in the House two weeks ago when 24 Republicans crossed the floor to join all House Democrats in opposition. Because most transgender service members would need some transition-related health care to stay in the armed forces, Democrats and LGBT advocates criticized the measure as a thinly-veiled attempt to force them out of the military.

Maine Second-District Representative Bruce Poliquin voted in favor of the anti-trans amendment. He has not released a public statement on that measure or on Trump’s new policy, even as other conservative Republicans have announced their support for trans service members.

Maine First-District Representative, Chellie Pingree, voted against the amendment and has publicly opposed Trump’s ban.

“Our all-volunteer military should not turn away Americans willing to risk their lives for our safety, especially as we face new threats around globe. President Trump’s statement on transgender patriots is bigoted and wrong. We are grateful to all Americans willing to serve our nation in harm’s way,” said Pingree. “If President Trump acts on his tweets, 15,000 transgender people now serving openly in the military will be pushed out. Taking this action would undermine our contract with these dedicated service members and hurt our ability to recruit others.”

Trump cited the costs of transition-related medical services as justification for the ban, but the cost to to the military is minuscule. As the Washington Post’s Wonkblog pointed out yesterday, the armed services already spend five times as much on erectile dysfunction medication as they would on health care for transgender service members.

Photo via Rep. Poliquin’s official website.

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