The US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit has ruled in favour of a Trump administration policy barring certain transgender personnel from serving in the military.
The court overturned a ruling of a federal judge of Washington DC that blocked the barring policy, stating that it violates the constitutional rights of transgender personnel in the armed forces.
However, this victory is restricted given that other federal courts have issued injunctions against the administration’s policy, which is applicable across the country.
The DC Circuit also noted that the ‘decision is not a final determination on the merits’, and the case will continue in the district court.
The Trump administration has sought the Supreme Court to look into the issue.
In March 2018, Donald Trump backed a plan by the former defense secretary Jim Mattis to limit the military service of transgender people diagnosed with gender dysphoria.
In July 2017, Trump announced on Twitter a complete ban on transgender recruits in military service. However, it was replaced with gender dysphoria restriction.
NCLR legal director Shannon Minter said the ruling is ‘a devastating slap in the face to transgender service members who have proved their fitness to serve and their dedication to this country’.
Minter added: “We will keep fighting this cruel and irrational policy, which serves no purpose other than to weaken the military and punish transgender service members for their patriotism and service.”
GLAD Transgender Rights Project director Jennifer Levi said that the decision is based on the ‘absurd idea that forcing transgender people to suppress who they are in order to serve is not a ban’.
Levi commented: “It ignores the reality of transgender people’s lives, with devastating consequences, and rests on a complete failure to understand who transgender people are.
“It is also destabilising to the military to so dramatically reverse a policy that has been in place for over two years that senior military officials acknowledge has operated with no problems.”
Doe was the first legal lawsuit filed challenging Trump’s policy on ban of military service of transgenders. It was filed by the National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR) and GLBTQ Legal Advocates & Defenders (GLAD). It is one of their two lawsuits opposing this policy.
Pentagon spokeswoman Jessica Maxwell was quoted by The Washington Post as saying that the Defense Department would continue to ‘press our case in the courts’.
In a statement, Maxwell said: “As always, we treat all transgender persons with respect and dignity. It is critical that the department be permitted to formulate personnel policies that it determines are necessary to ensure the most lethal and combat effective fighting force in the world.”