News (USA)

Despite Trump’s ban, Pentagon says transgender recruits will be accepted starting Jan 1

Donald Trump
Photo: Gage Skidmore via Flickr

A federal judge yet again blocked the Trump administration’s efforts to keep transgender people out of the military, and the Pentagon will now have to allow them to enlist starting January 1.

U.S. District Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly ruled against overturning her ruling, delivered back in October, that trans people should be able to enlist at the start of the year, despite an ongoing legal battle.

Kollar-Kotelly was one of two federal judges to rule against the ban, the most recent of which also prohibits the federal government from refusing to cover health costs associated with gender confirmation surgery.

On the same day as the second ruling against them, the Trump administration asked for clarification on Kollar-Kotelly’s ruling. Was she really saying they couldn’t delay trans soldiers from enlisting while the legal battle raged on, and while the Defense Department reviews the issue? Why, yes. Yes she was.

Even that wasn’t enough for them, however. They tried one last time to block trans people, filing for an emergency stay against Kollar-Kotelly’s ruling.

Today’s ruling means the military has no choice but to begin allowing trans people to join the military, but doing so won’t be easy.

As the Associated Press reports, “the Pentagon can disqualify potential recruits with gender dysphoria, a history of medical treatments associated with gender transition and those who underwent reconstruction. But such recruits are allowed in if a medical provider certifies they’ve been clinically stable in the preferred sex for 18 months and are free of significant distress or impairment in social, occupational or other important areas.”

Individuals on hormone therapy will have to be stable on their medication for 18 months.

“Trump administration claims that our highly sophisticated military is unprepared to implement a minor policy change after more than a year of preparation are simply not credible,” said NCLR Legal Director Shannon Minter in a statement.

“The military has studied this issue extensively and determined that permitting qualified transgender people to enlist and serve will only strengthen our nation’s armed forces. This administration’s claim that allowing transgender people to enlist will lessen military preparedness is contradicted by the military’s own conclusions.”

“It’s time to stop stalling and move forward,” said GLAD Transgender Rights Project Director Jennifer Levi. “The military has had nearly a year and a half to be ready to implement an enlistment policy its own leaders created and adopted. High ranking military leaders who oversaw training when the military made the first changes to transgender service policies have said the military is ready to accept transgender enlistees. This administration needs to stop creating fake problems and get on with it.”

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