Trump Is About to Lose His Fight Over the Transgender Military Ban
For transgender Americans seeking to enlist in the military,
the coming new year will mark a major victory in a long,
senseless battle started by President Donald Trump.
On Monday, openly transgender people will be allowed to begin
signing up for the military after the Justice Department
announced that it will not challenge previous court rulings on
Trump’s transgender ban in the Supreme Court.
Instead, the Justice Department will let the issue play out in
district courts, but those efforts likely will become
irrelevant after the Jan. 1 date for beginning to allow trans
recruits to sign up. And the Trump administration already has
been on the losing end of several rulings in district
In a statement to BuzzFeed on Friday night,
the Justice Department said:
The Department of Defense has announced that it will be
releasing an independent study of these issues in the coming
weeks. So rather than litigate this interim appeal before
that occurs, the administration has decided to wait for DOD’s
study and will continue to defend the President’s and
Secretary of Defense’s lawful authority in district court in
Previously, the Obama administration had set a July 1, 2017
deadline for allowing trans recruits to enlist. But last June,
Defense Secretary James Mattis postponed that date to Jan. 1,
Then, in a series of tweets last July, Trump announced that
transgender individuals would not be allowed to “serve in any
capacity in the U.S. Military.”
That announcement, which was not based on any type of studies
or rational decision–making, was made official in an
August presidential memorandum that stated:
In my judgment, the previous Administration failed to
identify a sufficient basis to conclude that terminating the
Departments’ longstanding policy and practice would not
hinder military effectiveness and lethality, disrupt unit
cohesion, or tax military resources, and there remain
meaningful concerns that further study is needed to ensure
that continued implementation of last year’s policy change
would not have those negative effects.
contradicted a 2016 RAND Corporation study that found that
allowing transgender troops to serve poses no “significant
effect” on readiness to serve or unit cohesion.
Four court challenges were initiated against Trump’s ban, and
all of them have been successful to date. In late November,
a federal judge in Maryland declared that the ban “cannot
possibly constitute a legitimate governmental interest.” He
preliminary injunction to stop it.
Less than a week later, another federal judge
clarified an earlier ruling that prevented the military
from implementing Trump’s ban on transgender people already
serving in the military. Those troops had been permitted to
serve openly since June 2016. The clarification stated that the
Defense Department must allow trans recruits to enlist by Jan.
1, 2018 as planned.
On Dec. 21, a federal appeals court denied a Justice Department
request to delay the deadline again, a ruling that was backed
up by yet another federal appeals court in a separate decision,
The last legal recourse for the Justice Department at this
point would have been to turn to the Supreme Court for a ruling
on all of those other injunctions. The Justice Department’s
announcement on Friday has put an end to that legal strategy,
at least for now.
Speaking with Slate’s Mark Joseph Stern, Shannon Minter,
legal director of National Center for Lesbian Rights, called
the latest announcement “a major victory” and “great news for
transgender troops, transgender military academy and ROTC
students, and transgender people who have been waiting to