Transgender veterans and allies respond to passage of the National Defense Authorization Act, upcoming vote on appropriations in the House

Today, transgender veterans, their allies and some of our supportive organizations from around the nation responded to the passage of the FY24 National Defense Authorization Act with outrage and dismay according to a statement from Transgender and Diverse Veterans of America Action Group. The House Appropriations bill with its amendments is just as bad, and it is coming up for floor vote soon too.

1st District Representative Doug LaMalfa voted aye.

TDVA Action Group: “These bills are a betrayal of our veterans,” said Cassandra Williamson, Executive Director of Transgender and Diverse Veterans of America Action Group. “The bills are deeply discriminatory, harmful to our lives, and our very existence. We call on the Senate to reject this harmful bill and protect the health and well-being of transgender veterans and service members. We call on our House members to reject the disgusting language that seeks to deny our access to medically necessary care found in the Appropriations bill and its amendments.”

AVER: “Congress should never pick and choose which service members will be treated for medical conditions and which will not. The denial of critical care based on political grandstanding is a betrayal of a sacred obligation to care for soldiers and their families. Breaking that obligation undermines national security by eroding the trust of the men and women who volunteer to defend our nation’s freedom,” said Danny Ingram, Public Affairs Officer, American Veterans for Equal Rights, the nation’s oldest LGBTQ+ veterans service organization.

TAVA: Rebekka Eshler, President of the Transgender American Veterans Association said, “As a voice of transgender and gender nonconforming veterans, the Transgender American Veterans Association stands proud and unwavering in our support for all transgender individuals who have served and continue to serve in the armed forces. We condemn the abhorrent anti-LGBT sentiment perpetuated by the right, which seeks to undermine the rights and dignity of our community. Let us be clear: transgender and gender nonconforming individuals have proudly served our nation throughout history, contributing their skills, expertise, and unwavering commitment to defend our freedoms. To deny their existence and the significant contributions they have made is a willful act of erasure and discrimination.”

NCTE: Olivia Hunt, Policy Director of the National Center for Transgender Equality/NCTE Action Fund, said, “Trans servicemembers, and servicemembers with trans family members, deserve the full support of their government. If enacted, restrictions such as these will drive qualified and exceptional trans people away from vital careers in the military and will cause critical servicemembers to not seek reenlistment. With recruitment rates at their lowest in decades, and retention rates dropping after the end of the COVID public health emergency, anti-LGBTQ extremists have chosen to put politics above military readiness. To sneak these attacks on trans people’s access to necessary best-practice medical care into the budget process for political gain is an insult to every American, transgender or otherwise, who has ever honorably served their country.”

“The removal of transgender-specific healthcare at the VA would disrupt the continuity of care for transgender veterans who have been receiving these services for years,” said Zander Keig, a U.S. Coast Guard Veteran and a trans man who has been receiving cross-sex hormones through the Veterans Health Administration since 2005. “This would place additional burdens on veterans, who would need to find a new care provider who is unfamiliar with their medical history. For veterans without healthcare insurance, this could also create a financial burden,”

The passage of the FY24 NDAA is a stain on our nation’s honor. It is a clear message that transgender veterans and service members are not welcome in the military. We urge the Senate to do the right thing and reject this harmful bill and we urge our House members to vote down the language in the Appropriations bill as well.