2nd United States judge halts proposed transgender military ban

Frederick Owens
November 22, 2017

The preliminary injunction means that Trump can not force the military to kick out trans men and women now serving, the military can not prohibit transition-related surgery for those who are already serving and the military can not keep openly trans people from enlisting.

Trump's July 2017 directive would have banned all new transgender recruits from enlisting, kicked out transgender people now serving in the military and prohibited transition-related surgery for service members. That decision blocked the portions of Trump's ban that would have prohibited new trans recruits into the military and potentially forced the military to discharge existing trans service members.

U.S. District Judge Marvin Garbis of Baltimore is the second judge to issue an injunction blocking the ban, report the Washington Post, the Washington Times and Reuters.

Justice Department lawyers asked the court this month to dismiss the lawsuit because the policy is on hold pending a review by the Defense Department.

Tuesday's ruling does even more: it also prevents the Trump administration from denying funding for sex-reassignment surgeries after the order takes effect.

"The lack of any justification for the abrupt policy change, combined with the discriminatory impact to a group of our military service members who have served our country capably and honorably, can not possibly constitute a legitimate governmental interest", Garbis wrote in the November 21 order (PDF).

Garbis rejected the government's argument that the challenge was premature. Four plaintiffs in the case before Garbis could be affected.

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The ACLU views the preliminary injunction as a win.

The judge agreed with the government that the courts should generally defer to the president and Congress when it comes to military affairs. "It was Trump who decided that this could be announced by a tweet".

"This is a complete victory for our plaintiffs and all transgender service members, who are now once again able to serve on equal terms and without the threat of being discharged", NCLR Legal Director Shannon Minter said in a statement.

In 2016, after a year of studying the issue, Pentagon officials in the Obama administration had concluded transgender troops would not burden the military, and established rules to let them serve openly.

Through an August 25 presidential memorandum, the president also sought to stop federal resources from funding sex-reassignment surgical procedures for military personnel other than what was necessary to protect an individual's health that had already begun.

In the meantime, the current policy of allowing transgender people to serve remains in place.

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