On Monday, US Federal District Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly rejected the Trump administration’s efforts to delay her October order that the US military accept transgender recruits from January 1, 2018.
In October Judge Kollar-Kotelly overturned 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 by Trump via Twitter in July.
There are currently an estimated 10,000 transgender people serving in the military and 134,000 transgender veterans.
Kollar-Kotelly’s ruling prevented 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 from January 1, 2018.
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."
On Monday Judge Kollar-Kotelly rejected the Trump administration’s claim that more time is required to prepare for transgender troop recruitment, and that “As military leadership has explained, this timetable will place extraordinary burdens on our armed forces and may harm military readiness.”
Judge Kollar-Kotelly wrote that “With only a brief hiatus, Defendants have had the opportunity to prepare for the accession of transgender individuals into the military for nearly one and a half years,” since the Obama policy was introduced in June 2016.
“Especially in light of the record evidence showing, with specifics, that considerable work has already been done, the Court is not convinced by the vague claims in [the government’s] declaration that a stay is needed.”
On Monday, GLAAD President and CEO Sarah Kate Ellis 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 must be delayed because none exists beyond their own hate-fuelled anti-LGBTQ agenda."
In November, a Baltimore Federal Judge issued a preliminary injunction that goes even further than the Kollar-Kotelly injunction, stopping the Trump administration from refusing to fund sex-reassignment surgeries for transgender military personnel after January 1, 2018.
The Trump administration is appealing that decision.