Trump’s Ban on Transgender Military Service Blocked By Courts
A federal judge in Washington, D.C. blocked the largest portion of Donald Trump’s memo barring transgender persons from openly serving in the armed services. Citing legitimate concerns that the ban would impact Fifth Amendment rights, Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly issued a preliminary injunction against the ban going into effect. The injunction does not affect the portion of Trump’s memo pertaining to medical expenses for “sex reassignment surgical procedures” as – according to the injunction – her court has no jurisdiction over that portion of affected policy.
The court action follows tweets sent by Donald Trump in late July that later transformed into a vaguely written memo targeting the transgender community. Both the tweets and the memo misrepresented studies and facts surrounding transgender service.
The announcement follows Defense Secretary James Mattis’ move last month to stall Obama’s initiative to allow openly transgender men and women to enlist. That initiative – begun under Carter’s watch last year – set aside a year for the Pentagon to determine how best to help transgender men and women begin integrating into the armed services. The day before that deadline, Mattis announced he was delaying implementation. He stated at the time:
“Since becoming the Secretary of Defense, I have emphasized that the Department of Defense must measure each policy decision against one critical standard: will the decision affect the readiness and lethality of the force? Put another way, how will the decision affect the ability of America’s military to defend the nation? It is against this standard that I provide the following guidance on the way forward in accessing transgender individuals into the military Services.”
The report from that year of research – commissioned by the Defense Department and assembled by Rand Corp. – concluded transgender men and women would have a “minimal impact” on readiness and health care costs.
At issue, Rand Corp. examined not only the number of transgender soldiers that could be expected but the medical aspects of their service given that some transgender persons choose to undergo reassignment surgery as a part of their transition.
The injunction issued today targets the portion of Trump’s memo stating steps to determine whether transgender service members can serve should be “appropriate and consistent with military effectiveness and lethality, budgetary constraints and applicable law.”
In the absence of that clause, the previous policy allowing transgender members to serve openly without repercussions will go back into effect immediately as the multiple court cases the injunction addressed make their way through the system.
Offering detail on the cases, WFPL reported:
The lawsuit against the Trump administration was initially filed by five anonymous service members, “Jane Doe” 1-5, from different branches, with decades of collective service and multiple overseas deployments between them. The “Jane Doe” plaintiffs were later joined by a “John Doe.”
Two named plaintiffs, one at the Naval Academy and another in the Army ROTC, also joined the lawsuit as aspiring service members who, as openly transgender individuals, would be blocked from their career path by the president’s memorandum.
The judge ruled that the plaintiffs have persuasive claims that their Fifth Amendment rights are being violated, and have a good chance of succeeding in their court case. She noted, among other things, that the president’s policy was announced with little apparent deliberation, “disfavors a class of historically persecuted and politically powerless individuals” and contradicts the conclusions of military leaders.
She also wrote “the reasons given for [the directives] do not appear to be supported by any facts” — for instance, there is “practically no explanation at all” about how trans service members would harm “unit cohesion,” she wrote.
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