Court: Military must take transgender service members by Jan. 1
A federal court on Monday issued a clarification that the U.S. military must take transgender service members by Jan. 1, after partially blocking President Trump’s transgender policy in an earlier ruling.
Last month, a judge on the U.S. District Court ruled that the president’s order to ban new transgender recruits from joining the military — as well as potentially expelling current members — cannot be enforced while the case is being reviewed in court.
Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly wrote that her injunction means that the military must continue to follow the policies established by former President Obama’s “June 30, 2016 Directive-type Memorandum,” which allowed transgender individuals to enlist beginning on Jan. 1.
“Any action by any of the Defendants that changes this status quo is preliminarily enjoined,” Kollar-Kotelly wrote in the Monday memo.
The ruling came after Trump issued a presidential order in August that the military stop enlisting transgender people and not use funds to pay for gender transition-related surgery.
The memo also gave Defense Secretary James Mattis a six-month deadline to assess the role of transgender troops who are currently serving in the U.S. military.
In August, the judge released a lengthy memo accompanying her ruling in which she said the plaintiffs in the case, the National Center for Lesbian Rights and GLBTQ Legal Advocates & Defenders, are likely to succeed by arguing that the president’s transgender ban violates their Fifth Amendment right to due process. The two groups sued in August on behalf of six unnamed service members and two recruits.
“The court finds that a number of factors—including the sheer breadth of the exclusion ordered by the directives, the unusual circumstances surrounding the President’s announcement of them, the fact that the reasons given for them do not appear to be supported by any facts, and the recent rejection of those reasons by the military itself — strongly suggest that Plaintiffs’ Fifth Amendment claim is meritorious,” she wrote last month.