Judge rejects Trump's request to toss transgender troop lawsuit

Judge rejects Trump's request to toss transgender troop lawsuit
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A federal judge on Monday rejected the Trump administration’s request to dismiss a lawsuit against the transgender military ban and lift the injunction blocking the ban from taking effect.

In an opinion issued Monday, U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly wrote that the transgender troop policy outlined by Defense Secretary James MattisJames Norman MattisOvernight Defense: Dems tee up Tuesday vote against Trump's emergency declaration | GOP expects few defections | Trump doubles number of troops staying in Syria to 400 Trump administration ups to 400 number of troops staying behind in Syria Kurdish-led Syrian administration cheers Trump decision to leave troops in region MORE in March was not different from President TrumpDonald John TrumpAverage tax refunds down double-digits, IRS data shows White House warns Maduro as Venezuela orders partial closure of border with Colombia Trump administration directs 1,000 more troops to Mexican border MORE’s plan to ban transgender people from the military.

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“Instead, at a fundamental level, the Mattis Implementation Plan is just that — a plan that implements the president’s directive that transgender people be excluded from the military,” wrote Kollar-Kotelly, an appointee of former President Clinton.

“Nothing in this Memorandum Opinion represents a final adjudication of whether defendants’ actions were constitutional. The court merely holds that whatever legal relevance the Mattis Implementation Plan might have, it has not fundamentally changed the circumstances of this lawsuit such that plaintiffs’ claims should be dismissed for lack of jurisdiction, or that the need for the court’s preliminary injunction has dissipated.”

The opinion came in a lawsuit filed by the National Center for Lesbian Rights and GLBTQ Legal Advocates & Defenders (GLAD) on behalf of five unnamed service members and two recruits.

“The Trump administration’s arguments to dismiss our lawsuit and move forward with the trans military ban are full of sweeping generalizations and false stereotypes about transgender people,” Jennifer Levi, GLAD's transgender rights project director, said in a statement “It’s clear Judge Kollar-Kotelly isn’t buying it—and neither should anyone else.”

The suit is one of four that have been filed since Trump first announced on Twitter his intention to ban transgender people from serving in the military in July 2017.

No new policy on the matter can go into effect, as courts in each case have issued preliminary injunctions that require the Pentagon to continue allowing open service while the lawsuits work their way through the court system.

In March, Trump signed a memo sent to the White House by Mattis, which banned most transgender people from serving in the military “except under certain limited circumstances."

After that, the Trump administration sought to have lawsuits against the policy dismissed and the preliminary injunctions lifted, arguing the cases are no longer relevant since Mattis’s policy is not a blanket ban.

In her opinion Monday, Kollar-Kotelly wrote that while the Mattis plan is written with more nuance than Trump’s original tweet, it still bans transgender people from serving.

“Under the Mattis Implementation Plan, those transgender persons who are not summarily banned are only allowed in the military if they serve in their biological sex. But by definition — at least the definition relevant to Plaintiffs’ claims in this lawsuit — transgender persons do not identify or live in accord with their biological sex,” she wrote.

“Accordingly, the Mattis Implementation Plan effectively translates into a ban on transgender persons in the military. Tolerating a person with a certain characteristic only on the condition that they renounce that characteristic is the same as not tolerating them at all.”

Kollar-Kotelly also highlighted the importance of allowing qualified individuals to serve. 

“It should not be forgotten that the United States military remains engaged in numerous armed conflicts throughout the world, and service members are still being injured and killed in those conflicts,” she wrote. “The public interest and equities lie with allowing young men and women who are qualified and willing to serve our nation to do so.”