Judge Rules Transgender Recruits Must Be Allowed To Join US Military

Protest of President Trump's proposed ban of transgender people serving in the U.S. military Luis Sinco  LA Times via Getty Images via NBC

Protest of President Trump's proposed ban of transgender people serving in the U.S. military Luis Sinco LA Times via Getty Images via NBC

A federal judge has ruled that the USA military must go forward with previous plans to begin accepting transgender recruits on January 1, 2018, effectively returning the policy on transgender military service to the status quo that existed under President Obama.

In her ruling, Kollar-Kotelly wrote that the military must continue to follow policies established by former President Barack Obama's "June 30, 2016 Directive-type Memorandum", which allowed transgender individuals to enlist beginning on January 1, 2018, and allowed them to serve openly and receive the required medical care for their gender transition through the military.

The court ruling clarified an earlier injunction against President Donald Trump's order directing the Pentagon to revert to its transgender policy prior to June 2016 when the Obama administration repealed the law prohibiting transgender individuals from serving openly in the military.

"Judge Kollar-Kotelly has once again confirmed that there is no legitimate reason to bar transgender people from military service", said NCLR Legal Director Shannon Minter. In that memo, Mattis set the new enlistment deadline to January 1, 2018.

In her response, Kollar-Kotelly explained that her ruling meant to reset the military policy on transgender service members to the "status quo" before Trump's ban. "Any action by any of the Defendants that changes this status quo is preliminarily enjoined".

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This clarification comes less than a week after US District Court Judge Marvin J. Garbis of Maryland issued another ruling requiring that the military continue to fund transgender-related medical care, including genital reconstructive surgeries, aka "sex-reassignment surgeries" (we need to talk about this phrase, but... another time). He argued, "Our military must be focused on decisive and overwhelming ... victory and can not be burdened with the tremendous medical costs and disruption that transgender in the military would entail".

Trump stirred anger by announcing in July that he would impose a ban on transgender soldiers serving openly in the military.

GLAD and The National Center for Lesbian Rights represent the five longtime transgender military service members who sued the government in August, claiming that Trump's efforts to ban transgender people from military service was unconstitutional and denied them equal rights and due process. The second injunction was issued Monday to clarify that the Department of Defense can not defer the January 1 deadline for allowing enlistment any further, according to court documents.

The Justice Department has already appealed Kollar-Kotelly's order - the first against Trump's transgender military ban - to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit.

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