A District Court in California issued a nationwide preliminary injunction against the transgender military ban, making it the fourth federal court to do so.
The judge ruled in Stockman v. Trump that the military has to treat transgender people equally.
The suit was brought by seven transgender servicemembers who argued that Donald Trump’s plans to purge the military of transgender people violated their due process and equal protection rights. It was originally filed by Equality California, and the National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR) and GLBTQ Legal Advocates and Defenders (GLAD) joined as co-counsel.
The State of California filed a motion to intervene in November, arguing that the ban would also affect the state government. The Attorney General’s motion argued that California would have a harder time recruiting for the National Guard, would have to violate its own anti-discrimination law, and would be forced to require state universities to discriminate in their ROTC programs.
District Courts in Maryland, D.C., and Washington state have also ruled against the transgender military ban.
Since the ban clearly violates transgender people’s rights, a court can only allow it to go into effect if the government has a real reason to enact it. The lack of policy review leading up to the ban – the Trump Administration didn’t talk to experts, hold hearings, etc., which are things that politicians who are actually concerned about the military’s effectiveness would do – made it difficult for the judges to believe that Trump was trying to ban transgender people from the military for a legitimate government interest.
In fact, his tweet announcing the ban was cited by a Maryland judge who said that the tweet “did not emerge from a policy review” and that Trump’s memorandum calling for the military to ban transgender people did not “identify any policymaking process or evidence demonstrating that the revocation of transgender rights was necessary for any legitimate national interest.”
“Four district courts have now ordered the military to allow transgender people to enlist and serve,” said Jennifer Levi, Director of GLAD’s Transgender Rights Project. “There is no principled reason to prevent qualified transgender people, who wish to do so, from putting their lives on the line to defend our country.”
Without a judge ordering the military to stop, recruitment of openly transgender people into the military will start in January, 2018.