Metro Weekly

Federal appeals court dissolves last injunction halting Trump’s trans military ban

Trump administration is now free to begin implementing restrictions on transgender soldiers starting on April 12

E. Barrett Prettyman U.S. Courthouse and William B. Bryant Annex, home to the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals – Photo: Bin im Garten, via Wikimedia.

The D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals granted a request from the Trump administration to dissolve the last injunction preventing the Pentagon from beginning to implement the so-called “Mattis Plan,” under which most transgender people would be barred from serving in the U.S. military.

The administration had previously gotten its hand slapped by a federal U.S. district judge, who ruled that it could not move forward with implementing the ban until 21 days after the issuance in-depth opinion explaining the rationale behind an earlier Jan. 4 decision by the appeals court.

In that earlier decision, the court found that a lower court judge had incorrectly ruled that the Mattis Plan was not substantially different from a categorical ban on all transgender people previously floated by President Trump.

Under the Mattis Plan, transgender individuals will only be allowed to serve if they have not been diagnosed with gender dysphoria and remain in their biological sex while serving.

There will be an exemption for a small number of transgender troops who transitioned under the Obama administration’s “open service” policy, but prospective recruits who are openly transgender will be barred from enlisting.

The Trump administration previously announced its intention to begin implementing the new policy on April 12, even as the constitutionality of the policy is being debated in the lower courts.

Attorneys representing transgender plaintiffs in Doe v. Trump case out of D.C. that is challenging the policy are still deciding whether to petition for an en banc hearing.

If such a request were granted, all sitting judges on the D.C. circuit would hear arguments as to why the injunction previously issued by U.S District Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly should be kept in place while transgender individuals challenge the Mattis Plan on its merits.

“We are concerned by the serious harms that the imminent enforcement of the ban is already causing, both to the military and to transgender service members, many of whom are now scrambling to come out and initiate a gender transition before the April 12 deadline in order to be included in the so-called ‘grandfather’ provision,” Shannon Minter, the legal director of the National Center for Lesbian Rights, which is representing the plaintiffs, said in a statement.

“The 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, to the detriment of their fellow service members and national security,” Minter added. “Today’s ruling only drives home the urgency of continuing to fight this destructive policy, which we will continue to do in the district court.”

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John Riley is the local news reporter for Metro Weekly. He can be reached at jriley@metroweekly.com

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