Trump to end Obama-era military transgender decision
Julia Lucas, Staff Writer
On Monday, Oct. 30, United States District Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly filed a preliminary injunction blocking President Donald Trump’s proposed transgender military ban. The ban, announced in late July, was implemented to block the military recruitment of transgender people, and the forced dismissal of current transgender military members into policy. Trump’s policy directly contrasted the Obama administration’s 2016 policy that allowed for openly transgender people to serve in the military. Obama allowed an estimated 1,320- 6,630 transgender people to serve in the military under the policy put forth by his administration. The Trump administration implemented its policy because Obama’s policy increased medical costs for transgender members of the military.
In August, shortly after Trump proposed his new plan, the LGBTQ Legal Advocates and Defenders (GLAD) and the National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR) sued the Trump administration. These two organizations sued on behalf of six active-duty transgender military members: Navy Petty Officer First Class Brock Stone, anonymous Air Force Senior Airman, Airman First Class Seven Ero Gilbert, Army Staff Sgt. Kate Cole, and Marine Corps Technical Sgt. Tommie Parker. The lawsuit argued that all six would be directly and indirectly harmed by the proposed plan, and that it would be unconstitutional to discriminate against these military members.
The decision to block this plan was only a preliminary junction, which is before the legal decision and is an attempt to convince either side to stop or continue with their filings. Kollar-Kotelly made her decision because she did not feel that the plan was supported by any true facts or with any evidence. She said that the group of transgender service members presented a strong case and they have a strong chance of winning their lawsuit. This injunction will remain in effect and continue to prevent the plan from taking effect until the lawsuit is resolved by going to court or waiting until a judge lifts it. The preliminary injunction decision angered many conservatives who supported the proposed ban, and gave relief to many LGBTQA members and supporters.
U.S. Justice Department Spokesman, Lauren Ehrsam, said “We disagree with the court’s ruling and are currently evaluating the next steps.” The Trump administration has also asked to dismiss the lawsuit, but unless this happens, there is a strong possibility that it will go to court. One of the administration’s arguments for the lawsuit is that it was filed prematurely because the Pentagon was still in the process of reviewing how the policy could change or evolve. While this could end up being problematic, it did not stop this lawsuit or several others from being filed. There are more lawsuits that have been filed challenging the proposed ban in cities such as Boston and Seattle.
The one lingering question that was not brought up or answered by the preliminary injunction was the status of paying for sexual reassignment surgeries for members of the military. This question was not discussed in the lawsuit, so Kollar-Kotelly could not make a legal decision on the matter. Because of this, the question of whether federal funds should be used to pay for sexual reassignment surgeries is still being evaluated until the final decision of the lawsuit can be made. This is a type of gray area that was not covered in the lawsuit, but could still greatly affect specific people in the military.