Near the end of October 2017, a federal court blocked U.S. President Donald Trump’s ban on transgender military members because Trump failed to show how doing so would further any compelling government interest. Yesterday, that court’s judge issued a clarification that, since the ban was blocked, the military should begin accepting transgender troops by Jan. 1, 2018.
A court memo benefitting transgender military members
The Hill reports that in her clarification memo issued yesterday, “Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly wrote that her injunction means that the military must continue to follow the policies established by former President Barack Obama‘s ‘June 30, 2016 Directive-type Memorandum,’ which allowed transgender individuals to enlist beginning on January 1.”
The Hill adds that Kollar-Kotelly’s memo also gives Defense Secretary James Mattis “a six-month deadline to assess the role of transgender troops who are currently serving in the U.S. military.”
Kollar-Kotelly’s memo comes less than a week after a second U.S. court blocked the ban for violating both the U.S. Constitution’s equal protection clause and the guaranteed rights of service members to recieve medical care. The judge’s decision in that case stopped the ban from going into effect and required the military to continue funding trans soldiers’ transition-related surgical care.
The ban on transgender military members seems likely to fail
The Trump trans military ban issued via Twitter in July 2017 was always based on flimsy reasoning: The U.S. President consulted no currently serving military officials about it and lied about the military not being able to absorb the cost of trans healthcare (even though the military spends five times more money on Viagra).
Two weeks before Trump issued his official memo instating the ban in late August, two LGBTQ organizations filed lawsuits against the ban, representing six currently serving trans military members and two recruits. Judge Kollar-Kotelly has written that she considers these lawsuits as “likely to succeed” because the president’s transgender ban violates their Fifth Amendment right to due process.
An estimated 1,320 to 15,000 transgender people are currently serving in the U.S. military.
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