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US court rejects Trump transgender ban as military prepares to accept trans troops

Nick Duffy December 11, 2017
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A court has rejected a bid from the Trump administration to prolong a ban on transgender people in the military – as the Pentagon agrees to begin accepting transgender troops in a few weeks’ time.

Donald Trump announced on Twitter earlier this year that all transgender servicepeople would be banned from the US armed forces, claiming they were a burden on the military.

However, the ban was quickly quashed by courts after a string of legal battles.

US President Donald Trump steps off Air Force One upon arrival at Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland on December 2, 2017. Trump is returning to Washington, DC after attending fundraisers in New York, New York. / AFP PHOTO / MANDEL NGAN (Photo credit should read MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)

The Trump administration had this week sought an emergency injunction to allow it to continue banning transgender personnel,  after a DC judge has ruled that transgender soldiers must be allowed to join the military from January 1.

However, the bid was rejected by the Federal District Court in DC today, paving the way for trans troops to be accepted from next month.

It is unclear exactly how many trans people will be rushing to sign up, however, given the extremely uncertain situation and the live legal battles that could quickly end their careers.

US President Donald Trump waves from Air Force One prior to departure from Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland, December 4, 2017, as Trump travels to Salt Lake City, Utah. / AFP PHOTO / SAUL LOEB (Photo credit should read SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images)

The challenge to Trump policy was brought forward by the National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR) and GLBTQ Legal Advocates & Defenders (GLAD).

Unless the Supreme Court weighs in, the military must now allow trans enlistment starting on January 1.

Pentagon spokesperson Maj. David Eastburn confirmed to TIME that the says the enlistment of transgender recruits will start on January 1 and continue amid the legal battles.

Sarah Kate Ellis, President and CEO of GLAAD, said: “Today’s legal victory is the latest step towards preventing Trump’s bigoted trans military ban from ever going into full effect.

“The Trump administration is struggling to provide any evidence that open trans enlistment be must be delayed because none exists beyond their own hate-fueled anti-LGBTQ agenda.”

The deadline has come about due to an Obama-era directive to actively permit the enrolment of transgender people.

The directive was set to come into effect earlier this year, but was delayed until 2018 as Trump announced the controversial ban on transgender troops.

US District Judge Colleen  Kollar-Kotelly issued the order imposing the January 1 deadline, refusing to let the administration push it back any further.

US soliders
Marine Corps recruits practice drill (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

She wrote: “[Existing] policies allowed for the accession of transgender individuals into the military beginning on January 1, 2018.

“Any action by any of the Defendants that changes this status quo is preliminarily enjoined.”

Trump stirred anger by announcing in July that he would impose a ban on transgender soldiers serving openly in the military.

He claimed in a string of tweets that the military “cannot be burdened with the tremendous medical costs and disruption that transgender in the military would entail”.

But Kollar-Kotelly ruled that a lawsuit brought against the proposed ban by five active soldiers with more than 60 combined years of service was likely to win.

US President Donald Trump prepares his traditionnal adress to thank members of the US military via video teleconference on Thanksgiving day, November 23, 2017 from his residence in Mar-a-Lago in Florida. The US President is spending the Thanksgiving holidays in his Florida private residence until November 26. / AFP PHOTO / Nicholas KAMM (Photo credit should read NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images)

In a separate legal battle District Judge Marvin J. Garbis went further, enabling trans troops who have scheduled transition-related medical care to continue with their treatment with no deadline.

The Maryland judge ruled that Trump’s potential prohibition was “egregiously offensive,” with no evidence to show it “was necessary for any legitimate national interest.”

The case, brought by the ACLU of Maryland on behalf of six soldiers, led District Judge Garbis to state that Trump’s ban “was not driven by genuine concerns regarding military efficacy.”

WASHINGTON, DC - NOVEMBER 20: (AFP OUT) U.S. President Donald Trump speaks to the media during a cabinet meeting at the White House on November 20, 2017 in Washington, D.C. President Trump officially designated North Korea as a state sponsor of terrorism. (Photo by Kevin Dietsch-Pool/Getty Images)

He added the proposal was a betrayal of trans troops who were already serving, and one which could not even “survive a rational review” in court.

“The lack of any justification for the abrupt policy change,” he wrote, “combined with the discriminatory impact to a group of our military service members who have served our country capably and honorably, cannot possibly constitute a legitimate governmental interest.”

WASHINGTON, DC - NOVEMBER 02: (AFP OUT) U.S. President Donald Trump gestures to reporters after joining Broadcom CEO Hock Tan in announcing the repatriation of Tan's company headquarters to the United States from Singapore during a ceremony in the Oval Office of the White House, in Washington, DC, 11-2-17. At left is Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA). (Photo by Martin H. Simon - Pool/Getty Images)

He said that for Trump to remove constitutionally given freedoms from a group of individuals was “so outrageous” as to “shock the conscience.”

Garbis tore into Trump’s inflammatory tweets specifically, writing that his sudden announcement “certainly can be considered shocking under the circumstances.”

More: court, Donald Trump, Gay, Law, LGBT, military, Pentagon, Trump, US, US

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