Trump Administration Seeks Delay in Accepting Transgender Recruits
By Mila Madison
This is the latest move by the Trump administration is an ongoing legal battle over the rights of transgender people who wish to continue serving or enlist in the U.S. Military. Last week, District Court Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly issued an injunction preventing the administration from pushing back a January 1st deadline that would allow transgender people to begin enlisting.
Meanwhile, the Pentagon announced it is still preparing to meet the January 1st date while the administration explores its legal options. “While reviewing legal options with the Department of Justice, the Department of Defense is taking steps to be prepared to initiate accessions of transgender applicants for military service on January 1, 2018, per recent court orders,” Pentagon spokesman Army Maj. Dave Eastburn said in a statement to news outlets this week.
In the motion issued on Wednesday, the administration is arguing that the military would be “seriously and irreparably harmed if forced” to meet the January deadline. “Given the complex and multidisciplinary nature of the medical standards that need to be issued and the tens of thousands of geographically dispersed individuals that need to be trained, the military will not be adequately prepared to begin processing transgender applicants for military service by January 1, 2018, and requiring the military to do so may negatively impact military readiness,” the motion said. The administration is also arguing that transgender people should not be allowed to enlist until Defense Secretary Jim Mattis issues his policy recommendations regarding transgender recruits in February 2018.
Former Obama era Pentagon officials are refuting the administrations claims. "The Pentagon had already done most of the preparation and training in anticipation of the lifting of the accession ban before the presidential transition, so to claim that the military is not ready to lift the ban now seems a stretch," said former Pentagon official Brad Carson in a statement released by the Palm Center.
In late July, President Trump announced via Twitter that he would be banning transgender people from serving and enlisting in the military. In late August, the President issued a memorandum regarding the ban while directing the Secretary of Defense and the Secretary of Homeland Security to devise a plan regarding how to address transgender service members who are currently serving by February 21, 2018.
To date, three injunctions have been issued against the ban by federal judges. Two of them have been issued by Judge Kollar-Kotelly, one in late October that prevented the Trump administration from overturning the Obama era policy that allows transgender people to serve, and the other in late November which prevented the administration from pushing back the January 1st deadline. District Judge Marvin Garbis also issued an injunction in late November that further expanded Kollar-Kotelly’s injunction, making Trump’s ban unenforceable.