After a fierce court battle, a federal judge has officially cleared the way for the Trump administration to at least temporarily implement its ban on transgender service members in the military. The ban will go into effect on April 12; however, there are still a number of cases continuing through the court system that are challenging the ban. If the ban is ultimately found improper in one of those cases, the administration would again be blocked from enforcing it.
This boondoggle started in 2017, when Trump—seemingly randomly—tweeted that he’d ban all transgender Americans from serving in the military “in any capacity.” Once the tweet was put out, the Defense Secretary backtracked and created a new policy. The plan required that transgender troops only serve “in their biological sex”—which is to say that openly-trans service members would be prohibited.
Shannon Minter, the legal director for the National Center For Lesbian Rights, told Bloomberg News that “[t]he government’s plan is already wreaking havoc in the lives of dedicated transgender troops who must now face the grim choice of suppressing their identity or leaving military service.”
On the contrary, Kelly Laco, a spokesperson for the US justice department, said in a statement that the Justice Department is “pleased the court cleared the way for the department of defense to be able to implement personnel policies it determined necessary to best defend our nation.” This statement comes despite widespread opposition to the ban, including concerns that it would actually dilute the power of the military in addition to being discriminatory.
The ban does contain an exemption for currently enrolled service members who have already disclosed a diagnosis of “gender dysphoria” or who have sought transition-related care. But, once in place, the law will bar those who have been diagnosed with “gender dysphoria” or who have received or sought transition-related healthcare before enlisting in the armed forces. It will also cause service members who are diagnosed with “gender dysphoria” or seek transition-related healthcare after the ban is implemented to face discharge.