Federal Judge Blocks Part of Trump's Transgender Military Ban

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On Monday, the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia issued a preliminary ruling against President Trump’s ban on transgender troops in the military.

The Hill reported that the ruling came after the National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR) and GLBTQ Legal Advocates and Defenders (GLAD) filed a lawsuit against the administration on behalf of six unnamed transgender service members and two recruits.

Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly wrote a 76-page memo along with the ruling where she stated that the plaintiffs will likely win their case on the basis that a total ban on transgender service members violates the Fifth Amendment right to due process. She wrote:

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

While the ruling was in favor of allowing transgender troops to openly serve in the military, Judge Kollar-Kotelly denied the plaintiff's motion to block the ban on funds for gender reassignment surgery.

However, the ruling is still being hailed as a major victory for transgender advocates, with Politico reporting that Jennifer Levi, a lawyer for the groups that filed the suit, called the ruling “an enormously important decision.”  

Judge Kollar-Kotelly also stated that the policy would return to what she called the “status-quo,” referring to the Obama-era policy that made it possible for transgender troops to serve openly in the military. Before 2016, people who wanted to undergo gender reassignment surgery were considered unfit for service, and those who were considered transgender could be discharged based on their gender identity.

In July, President Trump tweeted that transgenders would no longer be allowed to serve in the military in any form, and followed-up his announcement with an official order that would ban all transgenders by March 2018.

Unless the President issues a new order, the the new ruling will allow people who consider themselves transgender the ability to join the military by Jan. 1st.

(Cover photo: Ted Eytan)

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