Federal Judge Rejects Trump Administration Request to Further Delay Transgender Military Enlistment

Transgender Military ban

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Judge Kollar-Kotelly Denies Request for Stay of Injunction, Reaffirms Enlistment Must Begin January 1

WASHINGTON, D.C.—Today, District Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly rejected a request from the Trump administration to stay her injunction against the transgender military ban and confirmed that the military must allow transgender recruits beginning January 1. Judge Kollar-Kotelly’s decision reaffirmed the nationwide preliminary injunction in Doe v. Trump she first issued on October 30, halting Trump’s transgender military ban. In their opposition to the Administration’s request for a partial stay, NCLR and GLAD debunked Trump administration claims that the military is not ready to accept transgender recruits, citing a Palm Center policy report that called out the Trump administration for filing a court document that “rewrites the history of transgender military policy and distorts the evidence.”

“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. “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.”

Former United States Secretary of the Navy Raymond Edwin Mabus, Jr. and military expert, scholar, and veteran Dr. George Richard Brown agreed with NCLR and GLAD and were cited in the opposition to the request for a stay. Former Secretary Mabus stated that based on his experience, allowing transgender candidates to enlist is not a complicated process and that nearly all of the necessary preparation had been completed when he left office more than a year ago: “It is inconsistent with my understanding of the status of those efforts and the working of military personnel to conclude that the military would not be prepared almost a year later—and six months after the date on which the policy was originally scheduled to take effect.” Dr. Brown echoed this conclusion: “Based on my knowledge and experience, I do not agree that the military will be either unprepared or overwhelmed on January 1, 2018 to implement the transgender enlistment policy.”

The Pentagon also announced today it would comply with the court order that requires the armed forces to enlist transgender people while litigation over Donald Trump’s illegal transgender military ban continues. DNC spokesperson Joel Kasnetz responded:

“In a series of important legal developments, the courts have rebuked the Trump/Pence administration’s policy of discrimination against transgender people.

“We must be clear: All capable and willing Americans should be able to serve in our armed forces. This is not only the right thing to do, but it will also make our military stronger and more united than ever before. We look forward to a world where transgender people are recognized for their humanity, not degraded and attacked as they are by this administration.”

In Doe v. Trump, NCLR and GLAD argue that Trump’s ban, first announced in a series of tweets, is unfounded and discriminatory because qualified and able transgender Americans who wish to enlist are barred from doing so for no military-related reason.  The ban also demeans and stigmatizes qualified, capable transgender troops who are facing discharge along with the accompanying loss of their professions, livelihoods, health care, and the post-military retirement they have worked hard to earn.

NCLR and GLAD have been at the center of the legal fight challenging President Trump’s military ban since filing Doe v. Trump, the first of four cases filed against the ban, on August 9The Trump administration lost the first round and appealed Judge Kollar-Kotelly’s October 30 nationwide preliminary injunction to the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals, one court level below the United States Supreme Court. The preliminary injunction temporarily halts Trump’s ban and requires equal treatment of transgender troops and enlistees while the legal challenge makes its way through the courts.     

The two organizations are also co-counsel in a second suit challenging the ban, Stockman v. Trump, brought by Equality California. Oral argument in Stockman v. Trump is scheduled for today, Monday, December 11 in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California. 

Through strategic litigation, public policy advocacy, and education, GLBTQ Legal Advocates & Defenders works in New England and nationally to create a just society free of discrimination based on gender identity and expression, HIV status, and sexual orientation. 

The National Center for Lesbian Rights is a national legal organization committed to advancing the human and civil rights of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender community through litigation, public policy advocacy, and public education. 

[From a News Release]

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