US Supreme Court allows DoD to implement transgender policy changes

Nancy Victor 23 January 2019 (Last Updated January 23rd, 2019 10:44)

The US Supreme Court has allowed the Department of Defense (DoD) to proceed with the implementation of the new policy on military service by transgender persons.

US Supreme Court allows DoD to implement transgender policy changes
US DoD to proceed with the implementation of the new policy on military service by transgender persons. Credit: Spc. Joseph A. Wilson.

The US Supreme Court has lifted three of four injunctions that blocked the Department of Defense (DoD) from implementing changes to the military transgender policy.

However, it noted that a stay on the rules will still remain in place until a decision from a Maryland circuit court.

Pentagon spokesperson and US Air Force Lieutenant Colonel Carla Gleason said: “As always, we treat all transgender persons with respect and dignity.

“DoD’s proposed policy is not a ban on service by transgender persons. It is critical that DoD is permitted to implement personnel policies that it determines are necessary to ensure the most lethal and combat-effective fighting force in the world. DoD’s proposed policy is based on professional military judgment and will ensure that the US armed forces remain the most lethal and combat-effective fighting force in the world.”

The ban was first announced on Twitter by US President Donald Trump in July 2017, which stopped transgender Americans from serving in the military.

Following the announcement, former US Defense Secretary Jim Mattis issued interim guidance on transgender policy.

According to the guidance, transgender persons who require or have undergone gender transition and those who have a history or diagnosis of gender dysphoria are disqualified from military service.

"According to the guidance, transgender persons who require or have undergone gender transition and those who have a history or diagnosis of gender dysphoria are disqualified from military service."

The policy allowed currently serving service members who received a gender dysphoria diagnosis to serve in their preferred gender and continue to receive treatment for the diagnosed medical condition.

The changes were challenged in the courts and a stay was issued.

The National Center for Transgender Equality (NCTE) noted that an estimated 15,000 transgender people are currently serving in the US military.

In response to the decision, 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.”

The ruling follows after the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit ruled in favour of a Trump administration policy earlier this month.

–Additional reporting by Talal Husseini.