A Commander-in-Chief obsessed with winning has again lost a court battle over an executive order banning transgender troops openly serving in the military.
Trans people will be allowed to enlist on Jan. 1 after a federal court denied an emergency motion requesting a stay on an earlier ruling blocking President Donald Trump’s military ban. Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly claimed that she was not swayed by the administration’s “vague claims” that the military would be harmed by meeting the 2018 deadline.
“Having carefully considered all of the evidence before it, the Court is not persuaded that Defendants will be irreparably injured by allowing the accession of transgender individuals into the military beginning on January 1, 2018,” she stated in a Monday decision.
Kollar-Kotelly, a justice in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, originally ruled against the policy blocking transgender people from enlisting in October. At that time, she debunked claims Trump made in a series of July tweets in which he alleged that trans military service would entail “tremendous medical costs and disruption.”
“On the record before the court, there is absolutely no support for the claim that the ongoing service of transgender people would have any negative effects on the military at all,” Kollar-Kotelly said in a written opinion.
A second federal judge, Marvin Garbis of the U.S. District Court in Maryland, would subsequently uphold the earlier ruling. In a strong condemnation of a policy first announced on social media, he wrote that the “capricious, arbitrary, and unqualified tweet of new policy does not trump the methodical and systematic review by military stakeholders qualified to understand the ramifications of policy change.”
Although attorneys representing the Trump administration claimed that the Pentagon would not have time to meet the “complex and multidisciplinary nature” of open trans service prior to the enforced deadline, Kollar-Kotelly was again unconvinced.
She noted that the White House waited weeks to appeal her Oct. 30 ruling.
“If complying with the military’s previously established January 1, 2018 deadline to begin accession was as unmanageable as defendants now suggest, one would have expected defendants to act with more alacrity,” the Washington D.C. judge claimed.
The Pentagon said in a statement that it would obey the court rulings.
“As required by recent federal district court orders, the Department of Defense recently announced it will begin processing transgender applicants for military service on January 1, 2018,” the office claimed in a press release. “This policy will be implemented while the Department of Justice appeals those court orders.”
Although the Trump administration has vowed to continue fighting for the ban, LGBTQ advocates celebrated yet another victory for trans service members.
“It’s time to stop stalling and move forward,” said Jennifer Levi, the transgender rights project director for GLAD, who filed suit along with the National Center for Lesbian Rights on behalf of six trans service members. “The military has had nearly a year and a half to be ready to implement an enlistment policy its own leaders created and adopted.”
“This administration needs to stop creating fake problems and get on with it,” she added.
Although transgender service members could join the armed forces in as little as three weeks from now, a number of challenges will continue to stand in their way.
The Associated Press noted that trans people may be deemed ineligible to enlist if they have a history of gender dysphoria. In order to be permitted to enroll in the military, transgender recruits must undergo 18 months or hormone therapy and have certification from a medical professional that they are “free of significant distress or impairment in social, occupational or other important areas.”