Attorneys from the DOJ are arguing that because the policy has not been fully implemented, the “challenge is premature several times over.” They also claim that transgender soldiers have not been affected because the details of the ban are yet to be fully established by claiming none of the plaintiffs “face a current or imminent threat of injury during the interim period while the policy is being studied.”
The filing was made despite recent evidence suggesting that the new directive is already affecting transgender soldiers who are currently serving. According to six of the transgender soldiers who have sued to overturn the policy, they are already suffering because of the new directive. The soldiers say some of their medical treatments have been canceled and their careers are being derailed. According to a motion filed in August, one of the plaintiffs was scheduled to have surgery in September of this year but the treatment has been halted as a result of the current policy review.
“The government’s response reads like pure fiction,” said Jennifer Levi, Director of GLBTQ Legal Advocates & Defenders’ (GLAD) Transgender Rights Project, which is one of the groups who filed the lawsuit. “It states a fantasy that the president’s announcement of a ban on military service for transgender people has changed nothing.”
In late August, President Trump signed a memo directing the Pentagon to ban transgender soldiers from serving openly in the U.S. military. It gave the Department of Defense (DOD) a six-month period to develop a plan to implement the policy towards those who are currently serving. The plan will ten be reviewed by President Trump and implemented in March 2018. The directive also required the DOD to stop any transition-related surgeries with the exception of those that were already underway. It also prevents transgender people from enlisting. According to Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, current transgender service members are allowed to continue serving until while the Pentagon conducts its study. Despite this claim, it appears transgender people who are currently serving are already experiencing the negative effects of the new directive.