Congressman Panetta Introduces Legislation to Protect Transgender Military Dependents

June 1, 2021
Press Release

Today, Congressman Jimmy Panetta (D-Carmel Valley) led 38 of his colleagues in introducing the Armed Forces Transgender Dependent Protection Act to ensure the appropriate and necessary healthcare for transgender and gender non-conforming dependents of active duty service members.  The measure would prevent the Department of Defense from stationing service members and their transgender dependents in states or countries that prohibit or otherwise restrict gender affirming healthcare and treatments for these Americans.

“Despite the progress that we have made in our fight for LGBTQ equality, service members and their transgender dependents continue to face hurdles that threaten their development,” said Congressman Panetta.  “This straightforward legislation would prevent the Department of Defense from assigning a military family with a trans dependent to a state or country that prohibits providing gender affirming healthcare needed by transgender individuals.  As a member of the House Armed Services Committee and Equality Caucus in Congress, I will continue to work hard so that all service members receive the same fairness and equality that they are fighting to protect.”

“Every transgender American should be able to get the care and treatment they need,” said Congressman Cicilline, chair of the Congressional LGBTQ+ Equality Caucus. “This commonsense bill will help ensure that servicemembers are not transferred to states or countries that would deny life-saving health care to their children. I’m proud to join Congressman Panetta in introducing it today.”

“Across America, Republican-led states have embarked on the discriminatory mission of legislatively outlawing medical treatment for trans Americans. Ensuring that transgender children and spouses of active duty service members can access medically necessary treatment is a question of dignity, fairness, and civil rights, which is why I am proud to support Rep. Panetta’s Armed Forces Transgender Dependent Protection Act (AFTDPA),” said Congressman Nadler, chair of the House Judiciary Committee. “By guaranteeing that gender dysphoria is lawfully protected as a qualification for enrollment in the Exceptional Family Member Program, AFTDPA will deliver service members and their families the rights they deserve.”

"There is no place for discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity in our military – and that includes military families,” said Congressman Jim McGovern, chair of the House Rules Committee. “America is safer when our brave service members are taken care of and their families are healthy, respected, and valued. That’s why we’re introducing this vital bill: to ensure that transgender children and spouses of active-duty service members are supported and affirmed; not singled out and denied critical care. I’m proud to stand alongside Representative Panetta to introduce this legislation protecting the rights of transgender military family members.”

"We make a sacred promise to look out for our servicemembers and their families. Gender affirming care is critical to the health and wellbeing of trans Americans," said Congressman Anthony Brown. "Ensuring continuity and access to the same health benefits for military families across our country is a step forward for equality and supports those who have sacrificed so much. No one should be denied health care for who they are or who they love."

“Trans individuals serve in our military, belong to military families, and sacrifice for our country — and they deserve access to lifesaving health care, including gender-affirming care. I’m grateful that the Armed Forces Transgender Dependent Protection Act would ensure that trans military family members can get access to this vital care, no matter where their family is stationed. As the sister to a trans brother and a gender non-conforming sibling, I am proud to join Congressman Panetta on this important legislation,” said Congresswoman Sara Jacobs.

"No parent should be forced to choose between their child's health care and their job. Especially not the members of our armed forces who put their lives on the line every day to protect their families and our country. With a record number of bills that target trans people, including trans children, being introduced through state legislatures, the Armed Forces Transgender Dependent Protection Act is necessary to ensure family members of our service members can get the care they need, no matter where they are stationed. We are thankful to Rep. Panetta for introducing this important bill," said Alphonso David, President of the Human Rights Campaign.

"For too long now, we have seen military families turned away from receiving basic health care and discriminated against because they are modern military families that require certain considerations and support. Representative Panetta's bill is evidence that ALL military families deserve equal access to treatment and care. It would effectively safeguard and protect military families from discrimination and harm, and eligibility for enrollment in the Exceptional Military Family Program. We should not have service members putting their lives on the line for our country only to go home having to fight for equal access for their families in the same country they have vowed to protect,” said Jennifer Dane, Executive Director of the Modern Military Association of America.

“Service members should know confidently that our nation will assign them to permanent duty stations where all medically necessary care is permitted and provided for their dependents, inclusive of dependents who are transgender, without exception. As the country’s largest organization for families and allies of LGBTQ+ people, PFLAG National will work closely with legislators to move the Armed Forces Transgender Protection Act forward,” said Brian K. Bond, Executive Director of PFLAG National.

"Military families are critical to the success of our armed forces and reflect all of our nation's diversity, including gender identity. The Armed Forces Transgender Dependent Protection Act is essential to ensure that service members can do their jobs while knowing that their transgender and nonbinary children and loved ones are receiving the care they need and deserve," said Sam Brinton, Vice President of Advocacy and Government Affairs for The Trevor Project.

“Safety and freedom from discrimination and abuse is crucial to ensuring positive educational outcomes for highly mobile military-connected students, and that’s why we chose to become an original sponsor of this legislation. Passing of the AFTDPA is essential in shaping the best environment possible for these military-connected children to succeed and thrive as they endeavor to be college-, work-, and life-ready,” said Dr. Becky Porter, Military Child Education Coalition (MCEC) President and CEO.

"As states across the country attack transgender children, Congress has a moral obligation to ensure that members of the military are not forced to choose between serving in uniform and the health and well-being of their family. We are grateful to Congressman Panetta for his leadership in the fight to protect trans kids from discrimination and honor the service and sacrifice of military families everywhere,” said Tony Hoang, Executive Director-designate, Equality California.

"Blue Star Families believes that we ought to empower military families to have more control over where and when they move, and we commend Congressman Panetta for sponsoring this legislation. We know from our research that location matters, and some active-duty families might even choose to separate from the service rather than relocate to an area where they might be discriminated against. No family should be forced to choose between a sense of belonging and continued service to the nation," said Kathy Roth-Douquet, CEO & Co-Founder, Blue Star Families

“Access to appropriate healthcare is essential to the health and well-being of transgender individuals. The Armed Forces Transgender Dependent Protection Act is a critical step towards ensuring the mental and physical health needs of LGBTQ+ military family members are met and easing the burden on military members,” said Dr. Tracy Neal-Walden, Chief Clinical Officer of Cohen Veterans Network.

Military families now face the unprecedented fear of being transferred to states that would deny our children even life-saving healthcare. These states would classify us as child abusers for following the best practices of every medical organization in the US and even our own military's guidelines. Without clearly stated law, our families are placed in situations where we have to decide between continuing military service or protecting our children. As a military family, we don't have a choice where we PCS, we have all chosen to dedicate our lives to the military and this country. All we ask is our military and country protect our children as well,” said Jessica Girven, a U.S. Air Force spouse and parent of a transgender dependent.

“Ensuring all children have equal access to medical care and services is key to saving lives. Trans children need to be affirmed and this bill ensures they feel that not only from their family but from the military as well. It protects parents from having to choose between their child and their career. No parent should have to do that and no child should ever feel like a burden. This bill is the love the LGBTQ children and their families need,” said Amanda Brewer, a U.S. Army spouse and parent of a transgender dependent.

Congressman Panetta is joined by Representatives David N. Cicilline (RI-01), Anthony G. Brown (MD-04), Sara Jacobs (CA-53), Jerrold Nadler (NY-10), James P. McGovern (MA-02), Peter Welch (VT-AL), Jared Huffman (CA-02), Marilyn Strickland (WA-10), Eleanor Holmes Norton (DC-AL), Alan Lowenthal (CA-47), Charlie Crist (FL-13), Chrissy Houlahan (PA-06), Barbara Lee (CA-13), Ruben Gallego (AZ-07), Mary Gay Scanlon (PA-05), Seth Moulton (MA-06), Chris Pappas (NH-01), Darren Soto (FL-09), Dina Titus (NV-01), Marie Newman (IL-03), Ritchie Torres (NY-15), Henry C. “Hank” Johnson (GA-04), Carolyn B. Maloney (NY-12), Suzanne Bonamici (OR-01), Ann Kirkpatrick (AZ-02), Derek Kilmer (WA-06), Jake Auchincloss (MA-04), Daniel T. Kildee (MI-05), Scott H. Peters (CA-52), Judy Chu (CA-27), Jahana Hayes (CT-05), Jan Schakowsky (IL-09), Jason Crow (CO-6), Ro Khanna (CA-17), Mark Pocan (WI-02), Mikie Sherrill (NJ-11), Jim Cooper (TN-05), and Ted Lieu (CA-33) in introducing the legislation.

The legislation is endorsed by the Human Rights Campaign, Modern Military Association of America, National Center for Transgender Equality, The Trevor Project, PFLAG, Blue Star Families, Equality California, Silver State Equality, Partners in PROMISE, The Military Child Education Coalition, Exceptional Families of the Military, Elizabeth Dole Foundation, Cohen Veterans Network, Rosalynn Carter Institute for Caregiving, PsychHub, PsychArmor, Combined Arms Institute, and the Dixon Center for Military and Veteran Services.