Seattle, WA – A order of the United States District Court for the Western District in Seattle has ruled to keep the current injunction against the Military Transgender Ban in place and move the proceedings to trial. The ruling is keeping the pre-Trump area regulations in effect allowing transgender to serve openly in the military and receive appropriate medical care until a final ruling has been reached in Trial.
After the order has been released, Lambda Legal Senior Attorney Peter Renn stated: “Until the ban is put on trial, transgender people serving or wishing to serve in the military are protected by four separate court injunctions barring its implementation.” He added “If history is any prediction of the future, the ban is still doomed at its next reckoning.”
U.S. District Judge Marsha Pechman of the Western District of Washington ruled that transgender people were a protected class based on well recognized history of discrimination and oppression “unrelated to their ability to perform and contribute to society.”
Pechman continued: “Transgender people have long been forced to live in silence, or to come out and face the threat of overwhelming discrimination,” and “The Court also rules that, because transgender people have long been subjected to systemic oppression and forced to live in silence, they are a protected class. Therefore, any attempt to exclude them from military service will be looked at with the highest level of care, and will be subject to the Court’s ‘strict scrutiny.’ This means that before Defendants can implement the Ban, they must show that it was sincerely motivated by compelling interests, rather than by prejudice or stereotype, and that it is narrowly tailored to achieve those interests,”
This ruling sets a very high bar for any ban on transgender troops as well as for the upcoming trial.
The order came in response to motions filed after the Pentagon released implementation guidelines created after the original Trump Tweet. President Trump ordered these guidelines to take effect on March 23rd, 2018 barring almost all transgender troops from serving openly in the military. While the Trump Administration claimed that the implementation guideline replaces and previous orders, the District Court concludes that the 2018 Memorandum and the Implementation Plan do not moot Plaintiffs’ and Washington’s existing challenges.
The case in the Western District Court has been brought forward by nine affected service members as well as the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), Seattle-based Gender Justice League, and the American Military Partner Association (AMPA) on behalf of their transgender members. The State of Washington also joined the plaintiffs.