Trump Loses in Court as Military Prepares to Enlist Transgender People

President Donald Trump (L) and Defense Secretary James Mattis (R) PHOTO: JONATHAN ERNST/REUTERS

Transgender Universe

By Mila Madison

On Monday, a federal judge refused to stay a previous order that allows the military to begin enlisting transgender individuals starting January 1st. The Trump administration requested the stay as they plan to appeal a previous ruling that put a stop to the transgender ban.

The ruling came after U.S. District Court Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly found that no harm would be done to the military by allowing transgender people to enlist.

“The court will not stay its preliminary injunction pending defendants’ appeal,” wrote Kollar-Kotelly on Monday. “In sum, having carefully considered all of the evidence before it, the court is not persuaded that defendants will be irreparably injured by allowing the accession of transgender individuals into the military beginning on January 1, 2018.”


Yesterday, the Pentagon reacted to the administration’s many legal setbacks by announcing they are moving forward with plans to meet the January 1st deadline. With the announcement also came new restrictive guidelines that may be met with additional legal challenges. Those who wish to serve will be required to demonstrate that they are “clinically stable” in their affirmed gender identity for 18 months after they have transitioned. The guidance also states that if the applicant demonstrates signs of impairment or dysphoria, they can be disqualified. Additionally, those who undergo hormone replacement therapy must be stable on their medication for a period of 18 months.

“Due to the complexity of this new medical standard, trained medical officers will perform a medical prescreen of transgender applicants for military service who otherwise meet all applicable applicant standards,” said Pentagon Spokesperson Army Maj. Dave Eastburn.

The announcement by the Pentagon signals that the current administration is likely to lose their legal battle to impose the ban despite their appeal. The Department of Justice is now asking a federal appeals court to intervene and put a hold on the January 1st deadline.

"The controversy will not be about whether you allow transgender enlistees, it's going to be on what terms," said Brad Carson, who worked for Ash Carter as the acting undersecretary of defense for personnel in the Obama administration. "That's really where the controversy will lie."

According to the Associated Press, Carson worried that the Defense Department could opt to comply with a deadline on allowing transgender recruits, but "under such onerous terms that practically there will be none." Carson also said that requiring 18 months of stability in the preferred sex is a reasonable time. "It doesn't have any basis in science," he said while also noting that experts have suggested six months is enough. "But as a compromise among competing interests and perhaps to err on the side of caution, 18 months was what people came around to. And that's a reasonable position and defensible."