A federal judge for the District of Columbia has taken action against President Trump’s controversial transgender military ban, which was set to go into effect next March.
Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly blocked provisions of the ban on the basis that they violate the Fifth Amendment’s right to due process under the law. The injunction halts the discharge of all transgender troops, continues the re-enlistment of transgender troops, and allows for new transgender recruits to join the armed forces. However, it doesn’t address whether federal funds should be used for sex reassignment surgery.
Back in July, President Trump announced plans to implement a ban on transgender troops on Twitter. “After consultation with my Generals and military experts, please be advised that the United States Government will not accept or allow Transgender individuals to serve in any capacity in the U.S. Military,” he tweeted. The tweets were later followed by an official Presidential memorandum, which formally ordered the Pentagon to cease the recruitment of the transgender community—reversing the actions of the previous administration, which opened the military to transgender people.
President Trump’s justification for the ban was based on economic worries and the overall goal of strengthening our military. “Our military must be focused on decisive and overwhelming victory and cannot be burdened with the tremendous medical costs and disruption that transgender in the military would entail,” he said in another tweet.
The ban was not well received in many parts of the country, including Washington, where members of both parties blasted Trump’s abrupt announcement.
Amongst the many who were unsettled by the president’s ban was Republican Senator John McCain, a Vietnam veteran and current chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee. McCain openly disapproved Trump’s delivery of the message and the impact the ban would have on the active-duty transgender troops. “The president’s tweet this morning regarding transgender Americans in the military is yet another example of why major policy announcements should not be made via Twitter,” McCain said. “Any member of the military who meets the medical and readiness standards should be allowed to serve — including those who are transgender.”
In her ruling last week, Judge Kollar-Kotelly also had harsh words for President Trump’s original announcement via Twitter which, according to her, came “without any of the formality or deliberative processes that generally accompany the development and announcement of major policy changes that will gravely affect the lives of many Americans.”
Regardless of President Trump’s attempt to reverse transgender military rights, individuals like Senator McCain or Judge Kollar-Kotelly and organizations such as the ACLU continue to shine a light on the transgender community’s fight for their rights. In times of adversity, the Transgender community has found strong allies and a platform to stand on as they continue to strive towards equality in the military and outside of it, as well.
Meanwhile, The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) recently took legal action against the ban with a lawsuit arguing that the ban is both unconstitutional and discriminates against transgender people. The lawsuit will be argued in federal court in Baltimore on Thursday, Nov. 9.
By Elizabeth Gonzalez