The U.S. Supreme Court has lifted preliminary injunctions issued by appellate courts around the country, allowing Donald Trump’s ban on transgender men and women in the military to go into effect, various news sources are announcing this morning (Tuesday, Jan. 22).
The Supreme Court justices did not rule on the merits of the case against the ban; they just allowed the ban to go into effect as the case makes its way through the lower courts.
Trump’s policy, which he announced via tweet in July 2017, striking down an Obama Administration policy allowing trans men and women to serve. The Trump ban blocks those diagnosed with gender dysphoria from serving, with limited exceptions. It also specifies that individuals without the condition can serve, but only if they do so according to the sex they were assigned at birth.
Officials with Lambda Legal, which is representing transgender clients challenging the ban in Karnoski v. Trump, noted that the 5-4 decision to lift the injunctions allows “the administration to begin kicking openly transgender troops out of the armed services and to deny transgender people the opportunity to enlist.”
Lambda Legal counsel Peter Renn said, “The Supreme Court’s decisions today are perplexing to say the least. On the one hand denying the Trump administration’s premature request for review of lower court rulings before appellate courts have ruled and rebuffing the administration’s attempt to skirt established rules, and yet on the other, allowing the administration to begin to discriminate, at least for now, as the litigation plays out.
“For more than 30 months, transgender troops have been serving our country openly with valor and distinction, but now the rug has been ripped out from under them, once again,” Renn said. “We will redouble our efforts to send this discriminatory ban to the trash heap of history where it belongs.”
“The Supreme Court’s decisions today are perplexing to say the least: on the one hand denying the Trump administration’s premature request for review of lower court rulings before appellate courts have ruled and rebuffing the administration’s attempt to skirt established rules; and yet on the other allowing the administration to begin to discriminate, at least for now, as the litigation plays out,” Lambda Legal Counsel Peter Renn said.
Lambda Legal and OutServe-SLDN filed the lawsuit in August 2017 on behalf of nine individuals and three organization plaintiffs. OutServe-SLDN Executive Director Andy Blevins called the decision to lift the injunctions disappointing, adding that “our siblings-in-arms deserve better… . For more than 30 months, transgender troops have been serving our country openly with valor and distinction, but now the rug has been ripped out from under them, once again. We will redouble our efforts to send this discriminatory ban to the trash heap of history where it belongs.”
Aaron Belkin, executive director of the independent research institute The Palm Center stressed that while the court’s decision to lift the injunction allows the military to begin enforcing the ban, it does not require the military to enforce it.
Belkin called the ruling “unfortunate,” and said that reinstating the ban “would cause destabilizing whipsaws in personnel policy.
“President Trump revoked his directive for a ban and has turned the issue over to the military’s discretion ‘to implement any appropriate policies concerning military service by transgender individuals,’” Belkin added. “The Defense Department should not reinstate the transgender ban because it would undermine readiness, cause significant disruptions and uncertainty, deprive the military of much-needed talent, and wreak havoc with the lives and careers of the 14,700 transgender troops bravely protecting our nation’s security.”
The National Center for Transgender Equality noted that an estimated 15,000 transgender people currently serve in the military, and that “the court’s actions today puts their careers into question, causing ripple effects throughout the military including the thousands of teams that rely on these highly-trained servicemembers.”
NCTE Executive Director Mara Keisling said, “The court’s extraordinary action today puts the honorable service of thousands of troops and military readiness on the line. The military sets a core standard of unity and acceptance for American society, with implications extending far past military bases and recruitment offices, and that is the goal of the Trump-Pence administration. Today’s action is an attack on transgender people around the nation.
“President Trump’s attempts to defend this ban are as farcical as ever and only serve to defame thousands of transgender troops. It is more important than ever for Congress to act immediately to defend thousands of brave and honorable transgender service members from this thoughtlessly destructive president,” Keisling said.
And Sarah Kate Ellis, president and CEO of GLAAD warned that through the ban, the Trump administration is “creating a dangerous environment for transgender service members” and “also weakening the strength of our military and setting a dangerous precedent that puts the safety of our soldiers and nation’s military readiness in jeopardy.”
She added, “The American people believe that all qualified patriots willing to serve their country in uniform should be able to do so without intimidation or discrimination, and while the court’s decision today is a setback, fairness and equality must prevail in the end.”
— Tammye Nash