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Sen. Marco Rubio proposes bill to restrict transgender troops

Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., has proposed increased restrictions barring people diagnosed with gender dysphoria and transgender people who have undergone a gender transition from serving in the military. Photo by Jemal Countess/UPI
1 of 2 | Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., has proposed increased restrictions barring people diagnosed with gender dysphoria and transgender people who have undergone a gender transition from serving in the military. Photo by Jemal Countess/UPI | License Photo

Feb. 16 (UPI) -- Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., and Rep. Jim Banks, R-Ind., are proposing a bill to bar people diagnosed with gender dysphoria and transgender people who have undergone a gender transition from serving in the military.

The Ensuring Military Readiness Act of 2023 would reinstate several related Trump administration policies on military service. President Joe Biden reversed those policies in 2021, allowing people who are transgender or experience gender dysphoria to serve in their self-identified gender.

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Under the proposed bill, people who identify as transgender will not be allowed to serve in the armed forces unless they have been "stable" for 36 months. Then they must serve according to their biological sex. A person who is diagnosed with gender dysphoria may serve if they do not seek gender-affirming treatment, which breaks from former President Donald Trump's policy banning anyone diagnosed with gender dysphoria.

Rubio said in statement Thursday the policy is necessary to counter international threats from China, Russia and North Korea.

"The military has strict standards for who can and cannot qualify to serve. For example, under President Biden, you can't serve with a peanut allergy," Rubio said.

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"Biden has turned our military into a woke social experiment. It is a stupid way to go about protecting our nation."

Banks asserted that transgender soldiers and those experiencing gender dysphoria may lack the "lethality" needed in combat.

"Our military holds recruits to stringent medical standards for a reason and the Biden administration's special carveout for those suffering from gender dysphoria was purely political," he said. "Our bill ensures that DoD puts lethality and readiness before far-left ideology."

There are several exceptions in the bill, particularly for those who are already serving in the armed forces. The main impact on active service members is that they would have to conform to their biological sex in the military and could not seek gender-affirming treatments.

The new policy would take effect 90 days after being passed into law.

A study by the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force and the Williams Institute at UCLA suggests transgender and non-gender conforming people are twice as likely as others to serve in the military. About 20% of transgender people served in the military, according to the study.

"It's wrong that these brave men and women -- who sacrifice so much through their service to our nation -- should have to fight for their rights both as active military and then as veterans," Darlene Nipper, deputy executive director of the organization, said in a statement.

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