U.S. soldiers completing a military exercise – Photo: Spc. Marcus Floyd, via Wikimedia.
A second federal court has denied a request by the Trump administration to lift an injunction on banning transgender people from serving in the U.S. military.
U.S. District Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly refused to remove a block on implementing the ban, echoing a similar ruling by Judge Marsha Pechman in April.
The Trump administration argued that their new policy — which was devised after Trump’s original attempt to ban trans servicemembers was blocked in court — was not a total ban on transgender people serving in the military.
Under the policy, transgender people would be categorically disqualified “except under limited circumstances,” allowing a tiny number of transgender people to serve, so long as they do not undergo gender confirmation surgery or hormone treatments.
But all others, including those who have been diagnosed with gender dysphoria, would be barred from entering the military.
D.C.’s Kollar-Kotelly rejected the Trump administration’s argument, saying that the new policy — known as the Mattis Implementation Plan — echoes Trump’s original ban “by targeting proxies of transgender status, such as ‘gender dysphoria’ and ‘gender transition,’ and by requiring all service members to serve ‘in their biological sex.’
“By definition, transgender persons do not identify or live in accord with their biological sex,” Kollar-Kotelly wrote, “which means that the result of the Mattis Implementation Plan is that transgender individuals are generally not allowed to serve openly in the military.”
In addition, she argued that the Mattis Implementation Plan is “an extremely broad prohibition on military service…that appears to be divorced from any transgender individual’s actual ability to serve.”
Kollar-Kotelly also referenced Trump’s original ban in her ruling, calling his tweeted announcement that transgender servicemembers would be banned from the military “an abrupt reversal in policy, and a revocation of rights, announced without any of the formality, deliberative process, or factual support usually associated with such a significant action.”
While Kollar-Kotelly’s ruling prevents Trump from implementing his ban, it fails to permanently put an end to a ban on transgender servicemembers, instead maintaining the terms of the injunction that Kollar-Kotelly issued last October against Trump’s original ban.
As such, the policy remains frozen until the core issue of whether it is constitutional to ban transgender people from serving in the military is decided by the courts.
In June, over 100 members of Congress slammed Defense Secretary Jim Mattis for the “flawed scientific and medical assertions” he and other Pentagon leaders used to justify the ban.
“There is a deep chasm between established medical research and the underlying analysis your Department used to justify this policy, and we call on you to reverse your recommendations,” the members of Congress wrote in their letter. “Furthermore, we request that you disclose the individuals on the Panel of Experts and the principal advisors they consulted in drafting the policy recommendations.”
Earlier this year, the ACLU’s Joshua Block, a senior staff attorney, accused the White House of “transphobia masquerading as policy.”
“This policy is not based on an evaluation of new evidence. It is reverse-engineered for the sole purpose of carrying out President Trump’s reckless and unconstitutional ban, undermining the ability of transgender service members to serve openly and military readiness as a whole,” Block said. “The policy effectively coerces transgender people who wish to serve into choosing between their humanity and their country, and makes it clear that transgender service members are not welcome.”