On Monday US Federal District Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly overturned President Trump’s ban on transgender troops from serving "in any capacity" in the US military. The ban reversed Barack Obama’s 2016 decision to allow transgender people to serve openly in the military and was announced via Twitter in July.
The injunction prevents the transgender ban from taking effect until the court hears a challenge to the ban being bought by an unnamed group of plaintiffs. That means that transgender personnel can continue to serve openly and new transgender recruits are able to sign up to the US military.
Kollar-Kotelly agreed with the plaintiffs' assertion that the transgender ban was "not genuinely based on legitimate concerns regarding military effectiveness or budget constraints, but is instead driven by a desire to express disapproval of transgender people generally."
Kollar-Kotelly agreed that the plaintiffs "have established that they will be injured by these directives, due both to the inherent inequality they impose, and the risk of discharge and denial of accession that they engender."
Kollar-Kotelly harshly criticised the ban's Presidential Twitter announcement on July 26, saying it came "without any of the formality or deliberative processes that generally accompany the development and announcement of major policy changes that will gravely affect the lives of many Americans."
Trump’s White House Spokesperson Sarah Huckabee Sanders defended the ban in July, telling reporters “This is a very expensive and disruptive policy and based on consultation that he’s had with his national security team, he came to the conclusion that it erodes military readiness and unit cohesion and made the decision based on that.”
In the 76 page opinion, Kollar-Kotelly wrote that "All of the reasons proffered by the President for excluding transgender individuals from the military in this case were not merely unsupported, but were actually contradicted by the studies, conclusions and judgment of the military itself," and "do not appear to be supported by any facts."
The reasons the Trump administration gave for the ban contradicted a 2016 Rand Corporation Study commissioned by the Department of Defence, which found that the costs of medical care for transgender recruits serving openly and the impact to “unit cohesion, operational effectiveness or readiness” would be minimal, with very few transgender personnel opting for medical treatment which would disrupt their ability to deploy.
The plaintiffs sought a second injunction to block Trump’s ban of the use of military funding sex reassignment surgery. Kollar-Kotelly did not grant this injunction as she found that the plaintiffs didn’t adequately prove that they would be significantly affected by the ban.
"The U.S. District Court's temporary halt of the trans military ban is a major step forward in exposing President Trump's policy as a hate-fueled attack on some of the bravest Americans who serve and protect our nation," said GLAAD CEO and President Sarah Kate Ellis.
"Today's victory reflects what a majority of Americans have been saying: that transgender service members should be thanked and not relegated to second-class citizenship.”
GLAAD is cataloguing all of the anti-LGBTQ actions taken by the Trump Administration for their Accountability Project, asserting that “since President Trump’s inauguration, the administration has stopped at nothing to erase LGBTQ acceptance from the federal government. This includes appointing the most anti-LGBTQ administration in recent memory, deleting any mention of “LGBTQ” from government websites, and rescinding guidance that protects transgender students at their schools.”