Washington, DC – The White House recently announced an updated policy highly limiting the ability of Transgender Troops to serve and continue serving in the US military. Th updated ban follows recommendations provided by Defense Secretary Jim Mattis last month to the White House after the initial ban has been struck down in courts.
According to White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders, the initial policy – sent out via presidential Tweet – has been rescinded and replaced with the new policy.
Several civil rights and LGBTQ groups have already announced new legal challenges to the policy.
The new policy presented by Jim Mattis cites an expert panel as well as shortcomings in the RAND Study on transgender troops. The RAND study is deemed to be of limited scope and heavily caveated conclusions.
The new policy states that “transgender persons who require or have undergone gender transition are disqualified from military service.” Currently serving Service members who have been diagnosed with Gender Dysphoria since the Obama Administration allowed Transgender Troops and the date of the new policy can continue to serve in their chosen Gender Identity and will continue to receive treatment. Transgender who have been stable for 36 month in their biological sex are also exempt from the ban.
Active Service Members who are diagnosed during their service can remain in the military but are not allowed treatment or a change in gender.
The policy claims that “men and women who serve voluntarily accept limitations on their personal liberties” and that “these policies will place the Department of Defense in the strongest position to protect the American people, to fight and win America’s wars, and to ensure the survival and success of our service members around the world,” according to the summary of Jim Mattis.
Several legal experts are discussing if the existing preliminary injunctions against the original ban remain in effect, especially since the original policy has been rescinded. One of the first hearings on these cases will take place on March 27th in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington where Lambda Legal and OutServe-SLDN argue that the preliminary injunctions should become permanent and apply to the updated policy as well.
Other pending cases include: GLBTQ Legal Advocates & Defenders and the National Center for Lesbian Rights in Washington, D.C.; the American Civil Liberties Union and Covington and Burling LLP in Maryland; and Equality California in California.
The Department of Justice issued a statement requesting all preliminary injunctions to be struck down so the Department of Defense can “create and implement personnel policies they have determined are necessary to best defend our nation.” The statement continues “We are asking the courts to lift all related preliminary injunctions in order to ensure the safety and security of the American people and the best fighting force in the world.”
“The Trump-Pence Administration continues to double down on its cruel and unconstitutional ban on transgender troops,” said HRC National Press Secretary Sarah McBride. “From the first impulsive tweet, this policy has clearly been driven by an extreme anti-LGBTQ agenda rather than what is in the best interests of our troops and national security. Transgender people are enlisting and serving with distinction right now, and there is no legitimate reason to change that. Moreover, releasing this news under cover of darkness late on a Friday night means thousands of transgender troops will wake up tomorrow with their lives turned upside down. This couldn’t be more cowardly or wrong.”
Matt Thorn, president of OutServe-SLDN, said: “This policy is a thinly veiled and feeble attempt by the Trump-Pence administration to justify the unnecessary discrimination of qualified patriots in order to advance their own personal agendas and in defiance of the administration’s top military leadership. We are calling this what it is — an attempt to legitimize an unwarranted and unnecessary attack that targets individuals who have volunteered their lives in support of this country.”
Image Suurce: By U.S. military [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons