US: Judge Blocks Trump’s Ban on Transgender Troops in Military

A federal judge on Monday temporarily blocked a White House policy barring military service by transgender troops, ruling that it was based on “disapproval of transgender people generally.”

Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly of the Federal District Court for the District of Columbia found the administration’s justification for the ban, which was set to take effect in March 2018, to be suspect and likely unconstitutional. She ruled that the military’s current policy should remain in place.

“There is absolutely no support for the claim that the ongoing service of transgender people would have any negative effective on the military at all,” the judge wrote in a strongly worded, 76-page ruling. “In fact, there is considerable evidence that it is the discharge and banning of such individuals that would have such effects.”

Judge Kollar-Kotelly noted that the White House’s proposed policies likely violated the equal protection clause of the Constitution, writing that “a number of factors — including the sheer breadth of the exclusion ordered by the directives, the unusual circumstances surrounding the President’s announcement of them, the fact that the reasons given for them do not appear to be supported by any facts, and the recent rejection of those reasons by the military itself — strongly suggest that Plaintiffs’ Fifth Amendment claim is meritorious.”

Monday’s ruling was seen as an encouraging step for supporters. It stops a plan to discharge all transgender troops, allows current transgender troops to re-enlist and permits transgender recruits to join the military starting in January. 

In a statement, the Justice Department said, “We disagree with the court’s ruling and are currently evaluating the next steps.” Read more via New York Times