Court blocks Trump’s transgender troop ban citing tweet
On Monday, US District Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly issued a preliminary injunction that blocks the Trump administration from kicking active-duty transgender service members out of the military or from allowing them to enlist starting in January 2018.
Kollar-Kotelly blasted Trump for making the announcement on Twitter, “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.”
The ruling states that Trump’s tweets provide support for the plaintiffs’ claims that the decision was “not driven by genuine concerns regarding military efficacy.”
The ruling did not block a provision directing that government funds may not be used for gender reassignment surgery.
Kollar-Kotelly was ruling on an August lawsuit brought by several active-duty transgender service members who sued the Trump administration in an effort to block the ban.
She said transgender service members were “likely” to succeed in their case against the Trump administration on the grounds that the transgender ban violates their due process rights under the Fifth Amendment.
The ruling states that the plaintiffs “have established that they will be injured by these directives, due both to the inherent inequality they impose, and the risk of discharge and denial of accession that they engender.”
The injunction bars the Trump administration from implementing the provisions “until further order of the Court or until this case is resolved.”
“The effect of the Court’s Order is to revert to the status quo with regard to accession and retention that existed before the issuance of the Presidential Memorandum,” Kollar-Kotelly wrote.
In 2016, Defense Secretary Ash Carter announced the Pentagon would allow transgender service members to serve openly across all branches “without fear of retribution.” The Pentagon also prohibited service members from being discharged based on their gender identities and allowed other transgender people to enlist starting January 1, 2018.
Prior to 2014, the ruling stated that the US military would not allow anyone to enlist who had “defects of the genitalia including but not limited to change of sex” or a “[c]urrent or history of psychosexual conditions, including but not limited to transsexualism, transvestism and other paraphilias.”
In July, Trump announced that his administration would roll back the policy and no longer “accept or allow transgender individuals to serve in any capacity in the US military.”
Trump said the ban would help the military save on “tremendous medical costs” and help troops focus on their mission by ending the “disruption that transgenders in the military would entail.”
However, a 2016 report from the Rand Corporation estimated there were between 1,320 and 6,630 active transgender service members, representing around 0.1 percent of the total force.
The report roughly calculated that the total cost of transgender-related healthcare for active duty troops would cost anywhere between $2.4 million and $8.4 million, representing an increase in healthcare costs between 0.04 percent and 0.13 percent.
The study projected there would be “little or no impact on unit cohesion, operational effectiveness or readiness” by allowing transgender troops to serve in the military.
Trump also tweeted that he came to his decision after consulting with his generals, however, General Joseph Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and President Donald Trump’s chief military adviser, issued a statement the following day that said “no immediate personnel decisions would be made until after a formal presidential memorandum was issued.”
In August, the White House issued a formal Presidential Memorandum, which called for extending the prohibition on transgender people in the military indefinitely.
Trump’s memo also called for a “halt” on all sex reassignment surgery funding, “except to the extent necessary to protect the health of an individual who has already begun a course of treatment to reassign his or her sex.”
Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) president and CEO Sarah Kate Ellis praised the ruling as “a major step forward in exposing President Trump’s policy as a hate-fueled attack.”
"Today's victory reflects what a majority of Americans have been saying: that transgender service members should be thanked and not relegated to second-class citizenship,” Ellis said in a statement.